The Quadrant House is one of those homes that reveals itself as more clever and beautiful, the more you look at it. It’s also a great example of how kinetic architecture–or buildings that move–can be extremely practical.
According to Robert Konieczny, the founder of KWK Promes, an architecture studio in Katowice, Poland, the project began with a very simple request from the clients: “They wanted a simple, sunny, and relaxing house that, in some way, would be responsive to the movements of the sun.”
His creative work started with a straight rectangular block, which was placed perpendicular to the street on a suburban property plot somewhere in central Poland. The client also wanted privacy, so the studio “cut” and turned the ground floor 90 degrees to make it parallel with the street and isolate the garden area from curious eyes. In fact, the entire street façade is completely devoid of windows.
The void left by that cut block was turned into a very large open space that holds the living area, with a sitting and dining areas next to an open kitchen. On the second floor there are the living quarters. And the cut-out block itself is used as an area to exercise and hang out.
Then there’s the home’s centerpiece: a terrace that moves with the sun. The design was inspired by the quadrant, a tool whose rotating arm can measure the position of the sun and the stars to calculate longitude, latitude, or the time of the day, among other things. The terrace is anchored to the point in which the two house blocks meet. As the sun travels through the sky, this third block responds accordingly, moving thanks to motorized wheels on rails, aligning itself to the sun while passing toward the living room.
According to Konieczny, the terrace gives the clients a space that’s always shaded during the hot summer months, and provides them with a pleasant air flow at all times.
The terrace’s motion and pace change over the year, too. In the winter, it allows more sun to come into the living space by not connecting to the main block until the night falls. Over the summer, however, it connects to the living space, expanding it to provide shading during the hot months, and increasing air flow. The terrace itself also has blinds that can isolate it from the wind if needed.
One final request from the client gave the house its unusual roofline. The client wanted a flat roof, but local regulations require all homes to have sloping roofs. Konieczny’s inspired solution? A geometric play that lifted a point from the façade side of the large rectangular block, creating the necessary gabled roof. However, if you look at the house from the garden, the roof appears completely flat thanks to the the laws of perspective. A clever–and practical–move that also resulted in a particularly beautiful and unique shape.