by Jerry ElengicalJan 27, 2023
Inscribed into the lines of the terrain it is embedded within, Dune House by Polish architecture practice Mobius Architekci channels the curving silhouette of its namesake in an abstracted light, with a contemporary design aesthetic that is akin to what one might find on the set of a spy thriller. Set within the countryside surrounding Warsaw in Poland, overlooking the Narew River, the 1500 sqm residential design is a stark merger of organic and geometric design languages, working with contrasts to manifest the design team's fascination with eye-catching homes. In realising the residence, which is quite considerable in its scale as a single-family home, the firm, led by Polish architect Przemek Olczyk, effectively carved the program and its enveloping form out of the lush plains of the site; employing combinations of sharp and smooth lines, Cubist forms, and subtraction to respond to the context, with a massive green terrace on the entirety of its roof.
"The client was a couple who expected a home that would transport them to a climate other than Poland’s, one with more Mediterranean influences. They dreamed of an open and spacious house, but also an intimate one, and wanted to formally separate the building from the busy street where the plot is located,” reveals Olczyk while speaking to STIR about the brief provided to him for this residential architectural commission. For this purpose, the home is concealed from the access road along its front, designed with solely its inhabitants in mind. According to the design team, this is a common feature of their modus operandi when it comes to villa design, ensuring that all the detail and intricacy of the home is known only to its primary users.
A stronger sense of intimacy in the relationship between the home and its users emerges as a consequence of this measure, where the green mound that acts as its base also serves to screen the built form from those approaching it along the river bank. Externally, the building's envelope features a considerable amount of glazing on its front façade design, with the only breaks provided by mullions that frame its curved trajectory. Above and below it, curved slabs impart a sense of weight and opacity to the building’s appearance, adhering to the flow of the terrain. The upper roof slab is blanketed almost entirely in dense green cover, embedding the structure into its surroundings. Cuts, breaks, and sloped portions on this massive green roof terrace serve to mitigate the homogeneity of this upper bounding surface.
Olczyk shares, "The façade is a combination of sintered stone, which refers to the idea of a building 'carved' into the surrounding area and the white plaster on the exterior is a reference to Mediterranean architecture." He continues, “Geometric contrasts are directly related to the building’s form development. They were a way to eliminate the disadvantages of the location of the plot. Sharp cubist cuts forming the internal atrium are a response to the functional needs and the need for privacy of the investor. Alternatively, the arc in the façade’s profile harmoniously refers to the shape of the flowing river.”
Despite the building’s immense size with regards to its typology and program, its actual impression on the countryside is quite limited, resting low amid fields of grass. As per Olczyk, this scale allowed him to play with the form in a manner where its motion could be sped up or slowed down to create a more engaging spatial journey, one with a real sense of ebb and flow to it. However, the greatest counterpoint lies beyond the home’s frontage, in the main volume, where the green roof is defragmented to form open spaces hewn from the topography. This change in design language, although jarring, serves the higher functionality of the program while also offering a break in the solid massing of built forms.
Following the slope of the land, the massing opens up at this juncture to form an open space, leading to parking spaces and other functional zones. A 300-metre running track slices through this region, and runs along the perimeter of the site—which also boasts a helipad on one of its edges. While the massing around the semi-outdoor space is at its maximum height, this elevation gradually diminishes towards the site’s rear, in a gentle incline that becomes one with the landscape. Returning to the front of the structure, a rectangular glass box is perched atop the green roof, described as a “periscope” that rises over the enclosing tree lines. Two swimming pools have been provided as part of the long list of amenities housed within the structure, which also features a mobile platform that connects the building to the foot of the hill it its situated on. When facing the home from the river, the bedrooms have been placed along the right hand side of the plan, with the living room and kitchen at its centre, followed by a recreational area on the opposite arm of the layout. One corner of the structure has been dedicated to an office space as per the client’s wishes, blessed with clear views of the Narew River.
When devising the interior design and its functionality, the architects paid particular heed to the incorporation of automation, positioning the home as a cutting-edge piece of contemporary architecture centred on user convenience. Glass, stone, wooden decking, and a host of other refined materials define the palette throughout the home's spaces, with special mention of the glass staircase as well as the inclusion of curated sculptures that ornament the residence's minimalist-tinged spatial narrative. Catching the light at angles that shade inhabitants from the glare of the sun, Dune House is a sanctum devised to create an impression, both in the minds of its primary users as well as those who frequent its halls.