It has always been our dream to build our own house on a vacant plot of land in a town or city. After three years searching hopelessly for vacant plots in and around Benešov we came across a ‘for sale’ sign behind the window of a terraced house just five minutes from the main square and in one of the few neighbourhoods of Benešov that was left largely unscathed by the urbanistic ravages of the communist era. A small house for demolition, a stone cellar with a brick vault and a small garden which, together with the neighbouring gardens, gave the illusion of a large orchard. What more could we have wished for?
The original architectural concept was born the first time we visited the plot and did not change significantly after that. The studio/guest room, house facilities and garage are on the ground floor. The main living area sits on top of this and includes a living room with a high ceiling, an open plan kitchen and a dining room which is directly connected to the garden. The top of the house contains a private floor with two bedrooms and a bathroom.
The existing street frontage has only one thing in common, each house is different. We therefore decided to break the facade to allow for distance from the street at the living area level and an entry courtyard which provides the house with a private entrance; with a metal gate separating the tranquil courtyard from the street. The height of the individual volumes line up with the neighbouring houses and create a harmonious order in contrast with the broken front.
The house walls were constructed using Durisol building blocks and the ceilings were cast in-situ with reinforced concrete. We wanted to salvage the bricks from the demolished house so we could use them to construct the gable non-insulated walls, using this exposed brickwork to create textural infinity and imperfection. In the end however we only had enough bricks to construct the ground floor gable walls and so the upper floors were finished with new bricks.
The gas boiler is conveniently positioned in the first floor utility room which is separated from the kitchen by built-in joinery, the use of this location shortens the hot water pipe work. The utility room also contains the larder, washing machine and tumble dryer which saves valuable floor space.
All the internal floor finishes are either terrazzo or cotton carpet and the walls are either plaster or exposed brickwork. Larch wood was used for all the carpentry and joinery. The windows on the ground are aluminium and timber was used for the living quarters. The external walls are rendered with stucco, the ground floor concrete blocks are painted black and bricks are left exposed, the entry metal gate is also painted black. There are concrete and granite steps to the garden and both courtyards are paved with combination of granite off cuts and worked solid granite blocks.
An inseparable part of the design is the outside space. There are pleasant views from the studio into the entry courtyard and shade is provided from the southern sun by a thorny locust tree. A blue hydrangea was planted in the back courtyard. The garden itself is divided by box hedging into three consecutive sections. The first section is filled with decorative planting; lavenders, cherry prunus, perennials and kitchen herbs. The central relaxation section contains a fire-pit and an Amelanchier shrub. The final section is utilitarian with strawberry, raspberry and gooseberry plants and apple and cherry fruit trees.
Authors: Hynek Holiš, Šárka Holišová Šochová; holiš+šochová architekti
Landscape architect: Magdaléna Myšková Kaščáková
Photos: Tomáš Rasl
Year of completion: 2017
Location: Benešov u Prahy, Czech Republic
Gross Built Area: 103 m2
Text provided by the architects.