by Jincy IypeNov 01, 2022
In the village of Jaroszewo in north-central Poland, a rural-scape of a discordant built environment and vast expanses of fields dominates the setting. The Horse House is a facility for the breeding and training of horses. Buildings designed for animals differ from those designed for human habitation in purpose, materials, scale and functionality. The design for spaces of animal habitation, like a stable, is thus conceptualised around animal ergonomics, habits of living, breeding and movement, and physical ability. Architecturally, the concept manifests itself through the materials used, the position of fenestrations, the use of natural light and ventilation, and seamless circulation. Horse House, designed by architect Adam Wiercinski of wiercinski-studio, embodies the stable typology.
Located on a dense site accommodating an existing house, stable and farm buildings, the Horse House is surrounded by an indiscriminate built fabric of houses and farm buildings with no distinct material, formal, or geometric identities. The stable therefore contextualises itself around the structures present on site and aligns itself along the axis of the existing stables. The new stable is a linear building running parallel to the older stables, the extent of its length reflecting the extent of the two buildings across it. The near-rectangular structure primarily accommodates a stable and training hall, as well as human-occupied spaces for ancillary activities. A warehouse, and a social area—comprising a small kitchen, study, tack room, and a viewing area on a mezzanine—enable visual and physical engagement, both between the old and new stable buildings, as well as between the residing animals and the visiting humans.
The Horse House is divided into two distinct volumes—the larger, constituting almost two-thirds of the total footprint and accommodating the training hall, and the smaller enclosing a stable with eighteen stalls for horses. This planar proportion is followed even in the section, with the north-facing training hall dominating the stable and the ancillary spaces. On the south, the volume of the stable shrinks to amicably confront the stables across it. The two volumes within the stable are further segregated by means of two independent mono-pitched roofs at different heights, emphasising the distinctive scale of both volumes.
The building is a framed structure, assembled within a grid of columns and beams, and single-layer walls. Breaking the continuity of the walls, the unfinished concrete columns project out beyond the wall line on both the exterior as well as the interior.
The wall itself is a composition of running stretchers of concrete blocks, also left unfinished on both sides. The façade is punctuated with polycarbonate panels, as an alternative to glazing, which lets in diffused light. This material palette of raw, unfinished materials, coupled with a form that is reminiscent of factories, lends a distinctly industrial disposition to the building.
On the interior, glued wooden beams and gates, and brick partition walls complement the otherwise industrial aesthetic. While the equestrian spaces are designed with materials, finishes and a scale meant for sustaining animal habitation, breeding and training, the social spaces are predisposed to accommodate an ephemeral human occupancy.
The volume containing the stable is thus further broken down into sections, by adding a mezzanine with a viewing deck above the kitchen on the ground floor. Unlike the spaces dedicated to horses, where the use of contrasting colours could be a cause for distraction—the human-habited social space is animated with splashes of primary colours through the furniture and appliances (in stark contrast to the exposed service ducts).
In order to ensure safety, comfort, and hygiene for the horses, the Horse House typifies stable design, not only through the use of natural materials like wood in spaces being occupied by horses but also through optimum use of natural light—both direct and diffused. A long wall separating the stable and training hall encases polycarbonate panels to form a clerestory window-of-sorts, which illuminates the expansive hall from the south. The panels are characterised by a matte surface, which not only diffuses the harsh south light but also disallows intimidating shadows in the equestrian spaces. A series of windows, affiliated with individual horse stalls within, punctuates the south façade at a height that allows the horses inside to visually engage with the exterior as well as with the horses in the stables across, while simultaneously disabling escape.
Expressing his experience of designing a space meant for both animal and human use, architect Adam Wiercinski explains: "In this particular case, people are also important because they serve this building, but a small part is intended for them. Designing this stable was a great adventure. I felt more design freedom than with a single-family house or residential interior, it was pure design. Although I could not collect information and opinions from users (horses), their loving owners provided the best guidelines to make the animals feel comfortable. I hope that the unique shape and natural materials used are pleasant for horses and that they appreciate "their home"."