KWK Promes wraps up a house with a concrete road in Poland

Concrete pathway leading to the house
By The Way House as seen from the north west with views of the landscape and river beyond.
(Image credit: Jarosaaw Syrek)

Located in the heart of the green Polish countryside next to a winding river, the By The Way house designed by KWK Promes is formed of a long concrete pathway that wraps up the house, views and landscape together.

The client requested a very simple plan that reflected his existing apartment where he was very comfortable and content. He was also keen to have a very private place to live, far away from the main road.

However, KWK Promes, the Katowice-based practice behind the Noah's Ark house in south Poland, designed for the firm’s owner Robert Konieczny, is known for casting concrete shapes into landscapes and wanted to challenge the brief further.

Bringing some adventure to the design, the architects, eager to expand the clients' horizons, became inspired by the shape of the winding road that slunk through the landscape from the road to the plot of the house, avoiding cutting down any trees along its way and following the gradually sloping topography of the natural site.

Northern east view of By The Way house photo Juliusz Sokoàowski

The north east view of By The Way house, revealing the glazed ground floor space and the upper first floor living quarters above.

(Image credit: Juliusz Sokoàowski)

Carrying this idea forward, the road just kept on unrolling, essentially wrapping up the whole house and evolving into the walls, ceilings and floors of the house. The light concrete, inspired by the material of the road, climbs up protecting the house from the western winds.

A ground floor level featuring a gym, guest house and garage unfolds and the road continues to open up a large first floor zone that comprises the main living quarters – all across one level like an apartment as the client originally desired.

This design concept meant that the first floor level was hoisted up into the tree tops, bringing the best view of the landscape to the living space. The interiors are minimal, so to let the view of the verdant landscape dominate, while timber paneling across some interior walls helped to make the concept of the continuous road clearer visually, so the architecture could be understood.

Aerial view of By The Way house Jarosàaw Syrek

Aerial view of By The Way house.

(Image credit: Jarosàaw Syrek)

The living room opens up into a balcony space that looks down towards the river, then continues into a pathway, inclining down with the topography of the land.

As seen from the sky, the concept of the house is clear. The light concrete of the road joins to the house and merges with the light membrane roof, then emerges out the other side winding its way to the beach.

By The Way House as seen from the north west with views of the landscape and river beyond.

(Image credit: Jarosaaw Syrek)

Eastern view of the concrete house

(Image credit: Jarosaaw Syrek)

garden for by the way house

(Image credit: Jarosaaw Syrek)

By the Way house living room

(Image credit: Jarosaaw Syrek)

The concrete balcony and landscape

(Image credit: Jarosaaw Syrek)

By the Way house minimal bedroom

(Image credit: Jarosaaw Syrek)

By the Way house bathroom

(Image credit: Jarosaaw Syrek)

By the Way house view

(Image credit: Jarosaaw Syrek)

The facade of By the Way House

(Image credit: Jarosaaw Syrek)

For more information, visit the KWK Promes website

Harriet Thorpe is a writer, journalist and editor covering architecture, design and culture, with particular interest in sustainability, 20th-century architecture and community. After studying History of Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and Journalism at City University in London, she developed her interest in architecture working at Wallpaper* magazine and today contributes to Wallpaper*, The World of Interiors and Icon magazine, amongst other titles. She is author of The Sustainable City (2022, Hoxton Mini Press), a book about sustainable architecture in London, and the Modern Cambridge Map (2023, Blue Crow Media), a map of 20th-century architecture in Cambridge, the city where she grew up.