It’s hard to separate work from home, especially when you actually have an office at home. However, if you’re serious about it, there are ways to make it happen. Architect Petr Stolin illustrated this separation of the functions by organizing the space in two separate volumes. This strategy was employed when designing the Zen House, an unusual residence located in Liberec, in the Czech Republic.
Instead of a single and larger building, the architect designed two separate onesThe structures look similar to each other and have rectangular formsThe site is surrounded by vegetation but doesn’t have manicured lawns or gardens
The project is called Zen Houses and occupies an area of 75 square meters. It was completed in 2015 and there was a very specific request which basically defined the entire design. The design of the houses had to be centered around SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels). That’s actually what makes the facades look so unusual. As you can see, they’re semi-transparent and they reveal the frames on which the structures were built.
The facades of the two structures look unusual, being semi-transparentThe space between the two structures is a sort of interior courtyardSun shades are attached to the two buildings, creating a comfortable outdoor lounge areaThe courtyard feels really comfortable, being protected and semi-private
The project is a simplification of a regular house, redefining housing as we know it. It lacks the main atributes of a classical house and it brings to attention new elements and new design possibilities and options. The entire project was organized in two separate volumes with two separate color palettes. One of the volumes is based on white as a main color while the other is centered around black.
Both buildings have large windows which offer panoramic views of the surroundingsA large tree resembles a guardian, set between the buildings and offering shade to both of themThe interior is a long and narrow space in the case of both volumes
The interior is organized on two floors in both cases, with a suspended staircase for access
Even though the two structure only have a width of three meters, the interior space doesn’t feel small and doesn’t look confined. There’s a nice flow between the spaces and even between the two volumes. The architect linked them with a wooden bridge. The interior also feels open and bright thanks to the large windows and the strategic orientation of the structures which offers panoramic views of the surroundings.
On one of the upper levels the client wanted a workspace with a minimalist desk, a chair and a shelving unitThe shelf desk is mounted on the wall and maintains a clean and open decorThere’s a clear difference in the color palettes used for the two structures, one being white and the other one blackInstead of looking dark and gloomy, the black volume is actually really comfortable and cozyA small firewood burning stove sits on a platform with an open firewood storage area underneathThe walls, floors and ceiling are all painted in a dark shade and this creates an intimate and comfortable ambiance
Despite the difficult layout and the reduced size, the houses have well-balanced proportions and offer a pleasant spatial experience. The dark volume is a private area where the sleeping area is located. The bedroom and its en-suite bathroom are one and the same space. The tub is actually placed next to the bed with the sink on the opposite wall.
The furniture is kept as simple as possible in order to maximize the usable space and to avoid making the volumes feel tinyThe simplicity of the interior design is also given by the lack of unnecessary features
The unmistakable simplicity that characterizes this entire project has as a source of inspiration contemporary Japanese architecture and the ingeious and unusual solutions architects find in order to deal with spatial problems. This was an experimental project but its structure and system can be adapted to a variety of cases.
The dark volume is the private zone where the sleeping area is situatedThe bedroom has an en-suite bathroom with no wall between the two functions