A Zen House Divided In Two Separate Volumes Linked By A Bridge

It’s hard to separate work from home, especially when you actually have an office at home. However, if you’re serious about it, there are ways to make it happen. Architect Petr Stolin illustrated this separation of the functions by organizing the space in two separate volumes. This strategy was employed when designing the Zen House, an unusual residence located in Liberec, in the Czech Republic.

Zen House two volumesView in gallery
Instead of a single and larger building, the architect designed two separate ones
Zen House site and viewView in gallery
The structures look similar to each other and have rectangular forms
Zen House side facadeView in gallery
The site is surrounded by vegetation but doesn’t have manicured lawns or gardens

The project is called Zen Houses and occupies an area of 75 square meters. It was completed in 2015 and there was a very specific request which basically defined the entire design. The design of the houses had to be centered around SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels). That’s actually what makes the facades look so unusual. As you can see, they’re semi-transparent and they reveal the frames on which the structures were built.

Zen House passage between volumesView in gallery
The facades of the two structures look unusual, being semi-transparent
Zen House outdoor yardView in gallery
The space between the two structures is a sort of interior courtyard
Zen House interior courtyardView in gallery
Sun shades are attached to the two buildings, creating a comfortable outdoor lounge area
Zen House sun shadesView in gallery
The courtyard feels really comfortable, being protected and semi-private

The project is a simplification of a regular house, redefining housing as we know it. It lacks the main atributes of a classical house and it brings to attention new elements and new design possibilities and options. The entire project was organized in two separate volumes with two separate color palettes. One of the volumes is based on white as a main color while the other is centered around black.

Zen House large tree between buildingsView in gallery
Both buildings have large windows which offer panoramic views of the surroundings
Zen House bridge between volumesView in gallery
A large tree resembles a guardian, set between the buildings and offering shade to both of them
Zen House interior stairsView in gallery
The interior is a long and narrow space in the case of both volumes
Zen House interior structureView in gallery
The interior is organized on two floors in both cases, with a suspended staircase for access

Even though the two structure only have a width of three meters, the interior space doesn’t feel small and doesn’t look confined. There’s a nice flow between the spaces and even between the two volumes. The architect linked them with a wooden bridge. The interior also feels open and bright thanks to the large windows and the strategic orientation of the structures which offers panoramic views of the surroundings.

Zen House upstairs deskView in gallery
On one of the upper levels the client wanted a workspace with a minimalist desk, a chair and a shelving unit
Zen House desk areaView in gallery
The shelf desk is mounted on the wall and maintains a clean and open decor
Zen House terrace and windowView in gallery
There’s a clear difference in the color palettes used for the two structures, one being white and the other one black
Zen House lounge chairView in gallery
Instead of looking dark and gloomy, the black volume is actually really comfortable and cozy
Zen House kitchen areaView in gallery
A small firewood burning stove sits on a platform with an open firewood storage area underneath
Zen House clothes rack suspendedView in gallery
The walls, floors and ceiling are all painted in a dark shade and this creates an intimate and comfortable ambiance

Despite the difficult layout and the reduced size, the houses have well-balanced proportions and offer a pleasant spatial experience. The dark volume is a private area where the sleeping area is located. The bedroom and its en-suite bathroom are one and the same space. The tub is actually placed next to the bed with the sink on the opposite wall.

Zen House black walls and floorView in gallery
The furniture is kept as simple as possible in order to maximize the usable space and to avoid making the volumes feel tiny
Zen House firewood storageView in gallery
The simplicity of the interior design is also given by the lack of unnecessary features

The unmistakable simplicity that characterizes this entire project has as a source of inspiration contemporary Japanese architecture and the ingeious and unusual solutions architects find in order to deal with spatial problems. This was an experimental project but its structure and system can be adapted to a variety of cases.

Zen House bedroom and tubView in gallery
The dark volume is the private zone where the sleeping area is situated
Zen House bed and tub comboView in gallery
The bedroom has an en-suite bathroom with no wall between the two functions