ULTIMATE SAFE HOUSE
We take a look at a modern marvel that
was created by man but inspired by nature.
Fascination with home security typically begins with a home alarm, firearm or a safe. From there it graduates to dreams of owning an even bigger safe, with even more weapons. But as our minds – and budgets – expand, we begin daydreaming about things like panic rooms and secret passageways. But what if your financial means were of little concern, and the only thing limiting your options was creativity? Well in that case, you could literally think out of the box. The thought can stir up a world of possibilities, wonder and excitement, but the thought of being confined in one room, well … maybe not so much. That opinion can change quickly, however, when it
comes to matters of home defense.
A safe house outside of Warsaw, Poland, proves that it can be done – comfortably.
When a client approached Robert Konieczny of KWK Promes, he had one request. That request was to design a home that offered maximum security.
With that in mind, Konieczny began sketching one concept after another, and that’s when nature took its course – literally. He drew his inspiration from the highly evolved plants that respond to the earth’s circadian rhythm, a process called nyctinasty. He thought about tulips, poppies and hibiscus, for example, which open up during the day and
“After spending one year designing the home, it took a total of four years to complete the ‘Safe House’”
close up at night. This, in turn, became the foundation for what is now referred to as the ultimate safe house.
Konieczny designed a home that could open and close, and the home was designed to protect its occupants in two distinct safety zones – one protecting the outer perimeter and another adding an additional layer of protection by sealing the house shut.
From the beginning, the house took the form of a cuboid in which parts of the exterior walls are movable. Consequently, when the house is closed at night, the safe zone is limited to the house’s outline; in the daytime, the safety zone extends into the garden surrounding the house. Those same exterior walls are not dependent on the form of the building, and “that is why this patent can be applied to both modern and traditional, single and multistoried with different geometry,” according to KWK Promes.
One of the many features of Konieczny’s safe house is his use of a 7.2-foot-high outer wall with a length of 72 feet by 49 feet. It’s not the size factor we’re trying to highlight with the walls, but more so the functionality that the walls are designed for. These motorized walls create a “safe zone” courtyard or in extreme cases a “quarantine” that’s very well capable of separating an intruder or unwanted in-laws from getting into the main
living quarters. It can even serve as a safe zone for your kids to play in without the added risk of running into the street.
OPEN & CLOSE AT THE TOUCH OF A BUTTON
Either on a schedule or at the touch of a button, the house opens up its bright and spacious interior to merge with the expansive garden. The use of wide glazings behind the movable walls let the building acquire energy during the day (winter) or prevent the sun's heat from going into the house (summer).
“A motorized drawbridge connects the homeowner to a roof top terrace and separate swimming pool”
At night, when the house is closed, the thick outer layer helps the building to accumulate the gained energy. Such a solution together with the hybrid heat system (most of the energy is gained from renewable sources – heat pump and solar systems supported with gas heating) and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery makes the house become an intelligent passive building.
If set on automatic, the house will act in a similar fashion every day – it wakes up every morning and seals up after dusk. This routine reminds us of the processes occurring in nature, and the house resembles a plant in its day and night cycle.
With the ground level squared away
(no pun intended), critics may say that the home is vulnerable because of the huge windows, but at the touch of a button flush-fitting shutters measuring at 9.2 feet high and up to 11.5 feet wide can be sealed away. These same shutters are capable of opening and closing up to 180 degrees, allowing the shutters to lie flat against the house’s walls.
The south wing of the house is equally protected with an enormous corrugated roll-up door that measures in at 46 feet by 20 feet. The industrial roll-up door is similar to those used at aircraft hangars and shipyards. If that wasn’t enough, he’s also got a separate swimming pool and roof terrace that is accessible through the home’s very own motorized drawbridge.
The whole building is a concrete monolith, while its mobile parts – for the sake of considerable size – are light steel trusses filled with mineral wool. As a result, the building is perfectly insulated when closed.
The whole house as well as the mobile elements are clad with cement-bonded particleboards – Cetris and waterproof alder plywood fixed to a steel construction and painted with dark wood stain, which resembles the
wood widely found on the surrounding houses and barns. It makes it fit well into the rural landscape.
Being a strong advocate for both function and form, Konieczny’s apocalyptic safe house combines the perfect use of minimalism and safety. While some may say it’s a bit much, many would argue otherwise. The house possesses a modern flair and an aesthetically pleasing vibe when the guards are down, but at night it’s a fortress for rest.
Keep an open mind that you can’t have it all in life. I wish both function and form were easily achievable, but unfortunately that’s just not how the world works. If you ask me, Konieczny found the perfect comprise between both avenues. After all, when SHTF, aesthetics should be the last worry you should have in mind. HD
“Much like a tulip, this house was designed to open during the day,
and close up at night”
Robert Konieczny of KWK Promes designed a fortress that opens during the day and closes at night.
This maximum-security home is located outside Warsaw, Poland.