Booked for ever A long brick house by Foldes Architects, Hungary
Minimalist design meets everlasting intellectual values. Temple of books shaped into a long brick house in the side of the Big-Proud Peak, Hungary, from Foldes Architects
The project initiated by an intellectual couple, had a clear starting point, as highlighted to architects Laszlo Foldes and Peter Sonicz: “We own a length of books something like 100 meters”. The owners of the site had found the best location to retire from work and the noise of Budapest in a rich natural environment, at the side of the Big-Proud Peak.
Pilisborosjeno, a town some 15 km to North Buda, stretches in between hills surrounded by villas that inhabit the Pilis hillside. The plot is approached from a chain of narrow and steep roads. When arriving at the gate, just the green canopy of trees that shade the site and a minimalist concrete parking lot are visible. Thanks to the sloping garden, the house is hidden behind this rich, welcoming flora and fauna which plays a crucial part of the aesthetic. The owners aim of saving and keeping as much of the original plants and trees as possible has paid dividends.
“Taking into consideration the narrow and long shape of the building site, the way of the sun and the low budget programme, also the age of the couple who are to be retired soon, we advised them to realize a straightforward base plan, where the spaces are linked with a long corridor and public spaces face the panoramic view of the valley. At the same time, to avoid creating under-utilized space we discovered the great potential of the corridor concept. We turned this horizontal axis into a highly beneficial and unique element of the house, a 17 meter long wall of library.” – remarked the architects, Laszlo Foldes and Peter Sonicz concerning the design concept.
As approaching the house, a closed brick wall surreptitiously peeps from behind the trees and a staircase down to the base where the sauna and a store room are located. Behind the brick wall, on the ground floor, a master bedroom and a bathroom are situated. If one follows the brick pavement they arrive at the main entrance on the Northeast side, viewing the middle point of the corridor which leads to the public zone on the left hand side and to the private on the right. The latter consists of the working room, bathroom and the bedroom with its own terrace providing a stunning view of the westerly aspect with sunset views over the rolling hills and beyond.
The inner spaces follow the prolapse of the building site therefore the level of the floor is made continuously deeper via few stairs, enlarging the height (first after leaving the private zone, than when entering the living room, and finally when reaching the garden from the living room’s terrace). This results a variety of spaces, enjoying each case higher ceilings and wider rooms, ending up with the limitless panorama of the terrace.
The giant bookshelf fulfils more functions than one might expect. Throughout its 17 meters the modular system architects designed opens up, enabling a window to perfectly fit in, and a window seat – thanks to the 50 cm deep walls. In the living room the shelves are united with the fireplace.
“It was our general aim to assure the proper inner climate with architectural means rather than constructing huge machinery. The house has a 50 cm thick brick wall, meeting the heating technological standards and giving sufficient thermal inertia. The ceiling slab is made of wood and the empty, well ventilated attic behaves as a „buffer zone” optimising the inner climate. The terrace of the living room plays an important role in the protection against rain or intense sunshine, while it is an extension of the living room as well as an intermediate space between in and out.” – added the architects, Laszlo Foldes and Peter Sonicz.
In short about the architect Laszlo Foldes, chief designer of Foldes Architects
Laszlo Foldes after graduating as an architect at the Budapest University of Technology joined Järvinen & Airas studio, Helsinki. A few years after returning to Hungary he founded Foldes Architects in 1994 where he shares the work with 10 young architects. The office won two Pro Architectura awards and an Ybl award, besides being invited to exhibit at architecture events of RIBA/London, Lighthouse/Glasgow, Piran days of architecture/Slovenia, Tranzit 15/Leiden, DAZ/Berlin, Kunsthalle/Budapest. Projects of Foldes Architects are both residential (dwelling houses, apartment houses) and public buildings (health centres, churches, museums, schools). Their projects’ identification lays in the use of natural and local materials (stone, brick, wood) and the belief in architectural continuity, however they are opened to new ideas. First time in history they built in “LiTraCon” (light transmitting concrete), Áron Losonczi's invention which received several awards. The office gained international recognition for the Kemenes Volcanopark Visitor Centre, unveiled in 2013.
Text: Viktoria Szepvolgyi