by Dhwani ShanghviOct 10, 2022
Conceived as a residence over the city, Lazy House by petrjanda/brainwork is named after the tranquil residential district it resides in Zlín, Czech Republic, boasting of neat and green residential quarters tucked away with family homes. The site overlooks the majority of the city with its unique inverse orientation, sitting between a yearlong sunlit valley at its north, a slope running along its southern side, and a forest rising above the house. “The idea of the house goes beyond its physical form and is built from the inside out on the principle of spatial connection with the environment from which it grows and overlooks. The concept is based on the relationship between the house and the city, the house and the garden, and the garden and the city,” shares Petr Janda, lead architect of the Prague-based studio.
This relationship flows inside the residential design as well, its spaces in continuous visual connect with each other and the outside. Even the private areas of the house are defined as semi-extroverted. “Privacy is maintained by facade membranes that allow the maximum view from the inside out but reduces it from the outside in. To set it in the context of the garden and the city, the house uses material mimicry,” adds Janda.
Fourteen years in the making, the contemporary residential architecture references the typology and emotion of distinctive solitary villas residing in tranquil environments with unique views, such as Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye and the Glass House by Philip Johnson. “It is the essential archetype of a house that benefits from the uniqueness of its location,” observes petrjanda/brainwork. Designed as a compact solitaire on a square floor plan with a slightly rotated layout, the Lazy House consists of a lower floor sunk into the slope with the prism of the main living floor attached to it, which makes it seem like a single-storey house from the south side.
This prism forms a dynamic overhang above the garage entrance that sits on the sunken base, rotated in a perpendicular direction to the length of the site. This layout rotation is repeated with the terrace space that cuts into the sharp rectangular volume. A green roof hosts a fully glazed roof studio, returning the green that was removed by the house’s volume to it. Viewable from the garden are the main living spaces concentrated on the upper floor. “Thanks to the layout rotation, it was possible to arrange the rooms around the perimeter while maintaining the privacy. The house uses the principle of aircraft camouflage; the main living floor is visually connected to the sky by dematerialisation through mirroring and moiré facades and “levitates” on the Corten base sunk into the slope. From above, the green roof with the studio merges with the garden city, dotted with houses,” says Janda.
The Lazy House is a glowing sum of its individual parts, each setting their own private relationship to the garden and the city. This allows for a “multi-generational arrangement” set forth by two separate guest sections with different entrances. The private dwelling can be accessed from the street through a gate and the entrance floor with the garage, leading into separate entries to the main living floor by a single-flight staircase and the guest apartments, respectively. The north and south sides are kept visually open, while the facades on the east and west ensure privacy and allow the view out and the sun in, through windows clad in stainless steel membrane and blinds.
The seamless layout minimises the need for circulation corridors and helps in opening up the interior design even more. The private areas are reachable from the central social zone, with rooms for parents consisting of a bedroom connected by a walk-in wardrobe and bathroom, kept separate from the children’s zone that includes two bedrooms with a bathroom and toilet between them. The expansive social zone comprises a kitchen, dining room and living room running through the house. Rooms designated at corners around the layout’s perimeter may seem too cramped or angular but benefit either from a view to the city or from ample contact with the outside garden.
A glazed study with bookshelves is connected to the living area and the terrace through a trimmed indoor garden and the kitchen’s pantry. The lower floor hosts a two-car garage, with both entrances to the house on its sides. The western side here contains a guest apartment with an open layout and a separate entrance, replete with a kitchen, dining room, living room, an isolated bedroom with its own walk-in wardrobe, bathroom and toilet as well its own terrace with a separate garden.
The house is composed of a reinforced concrete monolith insulated with high-performance thermal insulation, and “uses its load-bearing structure as a skeleton, the insulation as muscles, heating as blood circulation, air conditioning as lungs and trachea, water distribution and sewerage as the digestive system, wiring as the nervous system and surface layers as skin, protecting the whole body and allowing its surface to breathe,” the design team explains.
The main volume of the living floor features a fully structurally glazed north and south facade with massive metallised triple glazing, while the east and west facades facing the neighbours are made of a stainless-steel fabric that clads the windows. “Its silky shiny surface complements the reflection of the glass and creates a volatile moiré that blends in with the sky when viewed from the access road,” they continue. The lower floor with its garage door uses pre-corroded, rusty Corten steel sheets, connecting emotionally with the garden.
The metal sits in subtle contrast to the warm wooden interior, consisting of elm veneer facing with solid Iroko flooring, built-in-furniture and solid floors. “The overall impression is that of a continuous flow of space. This flow culminates in the individual layout epicentres using glazed elements that seem to be in rhythm with the surface of the walls via the reflection of light, drawing the views from the large windows into the deeper parts of the interior. Bathrooms form the appendices and make specific impressions,” says Janda. Iridescent lighting, diffused by two-colour filters, bathes the interiors in a pearlescent glow in shades fading from the centre of the layout towards its edges. Membranes of curtains, drapes, and screens, become subtle room dividers.
Resembling a smooth carpet, the landscaping is a dominant feature of the Lazy House, adorned by a swimming pool with a grotto, emerging as a relaxing, covered exterior with a gorgeous view of the valley. The grotto’s curved form is composed of “gradually rotated massive larch planks joined as formwork for a hidden reinforced concrete shell sunk in the terrain adjoining the grotto, creating a "cave" cut out of the garden hill,” mentions Janda. Elevating the landscape design is a sunken wine cellar, the fencing at the entrance gate and a dustbin box that grows into the slope and merges with the garden that seems to flow around the home, forming secret bays. "The open concept naturally achieves privacy thanks to the vegetation protecting the boundaries of the site," he adds.
The Czech studio also explains that the cover that keeps water temperature when the pool is not in use is hidden under a bench made of stainless-steel rods immersed in the pool. The wine cellar is equipped with steel waxed shelves for bottles, its design adapting that of an original brick vaulted cellar, a relic of the original allotment colony of the site while Irish moss growing through the reinforcing slate structure covers its roof. A fully glazed studio slightly sinks into the garden - "when viewed from the studio, the green roof is perceived as its own “infinity” meadow that blends with the remote garden city," shares the team.
Name: Lazy House
Location: Zlín, Czech Republic
Area: 225 sqm (Built-up Area), 400 sqm (Gross Floor Area), 345 sqm (Usable Floor Area), 1,400 sqm (Plot Area)
Year of completion: 2020
Lead Architect: Petr Janda