keret house narrow warsaw house

What it lacks in width it makes up at least a little in height and depth – this narrow home extends 30 feet up and 30 feet back from the street.

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Designer Jakub Szczesny (images by Bartek Warzecha of the Polish Modern Art Foundation) designed it for artists in residence to spend a series of weeks – hopefully drawing inspiration from their strange environs.

keret house narrow warsaw
keret house under construction

Set in Warsaw, Poland, the building fills in the interstitial space between two existing structures, with a subtly disjunctive facade. Lots of windows as well as tall and long interior spaces help it feel open despite its lack of horizontal dimensionality.

keret house staircase

And yes, it has everything you need from a house, including bedroom, bathroom and kitchen, with plumbing made as thin as possible. Per the diagram, a series of stairs and ladders connect disparate levels.

Keret house narrow
keret house bedroom

Szczesny came up with the idea while sitting at a cafe, where he spotted a dark crevice dividing two distinctive buildings: a pre-war tenement house, and an apartment building from the 1970s. Beside them was once a wooden footbridge connecting the “small ghetto” to the “large ghetto.”

Keret house interior

It’s this wartime history of the place that inspired Szczesny to take on the project for the new narrow house’s inhabitant, Etgar Keret, an Israeli writer whose family originates in Poland. During the war, his mother was trapped in the Warsaw ghetto, and her family died; she later fled to Israel. To build and occupy “Keret House” is to bring her family name back to the city from which it was once supposed to have been removed.

“The most interesting challenges for an architect are always those which require combining a lot of elements with an existing spatial context or budget,” says Szczesny. “Therefore, reduction is an exciting topic – it relates to completely different forms of design and ergonomic organization than those commonly established by design manuals. It’s a kind of equation with many unknowns.”