It is not common practice for our studio to undertake the planning of family homes so we treasure those few that we do. One such gem is the family home of the architect where we aimed to implement a well-functioning, uniquely designed building. It is a charming place where it is good to be and there’s an opportunity to let the steam off, relax and recharge at the same time.

A few years ago in Helsinki we had a chance to see the house of Alvar Aalto which was not only his home but his home studio too. The dimensions of the spaces and their connections were quite unusual, yet sensible. The prestigious Finnish architect designed the spaces of work, dining and relaxing with great care. The greater environment, the garden and its plants were also part of the design. He even designed his own furniture that were full of secrets and surprises. The whole house was charged with love of nature and craftsman’s mentality.

The location in our case is the greenbelt area of the Zugló district of Budapest. The grove-like corner plot used to be a community garden until the district municipality pronounced it a building plot. The rectangular area is surrounded by white wattles towards the corner of the street. Although this is not a particularly valuable tree it looks pretty and its flowers smell nice, not to mention that they provide a good deal of shadow too. So it became a primary goal to keep them. The trees and the side gardens finally surrounded a right-angled triangle shape on the tiny plot adding a living contour to the plot.

The two-floor, flat roofed volume is hiding behind the line of white wattles, further inside the garden, far from the street. In order to gain ideal solar exposure, the house is facing the street corner. The large glass surfaces of the kitchen-dining area and the playfully placed windows of the upper level face this direction too. The crowns of the trees protect the house from the rays of the sun. The garden’s undulating design provides the intimacy of the dwellers as the grass hills are lifted to eye level so it is not possible to peep inside from the street and it is all the more exciting to enjoy the wavy surfaces.

The triangle shape building and its surrounding garden makes a rectangular space where outside and inside are inseparable from each other. The forest-like atmosphere of the garden infiltrates the interior too.

The sculpture-like reinforced concrete walls that are placed in the garden provide further protection. Their position is arranged on the two main axis of the interior plan. One of these is the entrance axis, the centre units of which are the fireplace and the roofed terrace. The other axis is parallel to the diagonal of the triangle which is also the direction of access: the line of the staircase leading to the upper floor and the upstairs’ corridor.

The unusual shape of the house demanded custom made furniture that perfectly suit the composition. The bookshelf, the staircase, the living room door and the kitchen cupboard are all part of one furniture unit that provide a neutral background to the ground floor communal area. Everything in the house has its own place. On the ground floor there is a mobile sliding desk that can change the corner of the living room to an instant study. The upper floor is perfect for retreat: it provides a tiny but compact hiding place for each member of the family of five. The windows are part of the dynamic composition of the custom-made furniture. Next to the glass surfaces we designed different functions like a reading snug a sofa which resembles the atmosphere of a sailing boat.

The building is also unique from an engineering aspect as it is ecological and economical at the same time. An air to air heat pump provides the necessary energy for heating, cooling and the hot water provision. The flat roof can easily hold solar panels. A network of pipes installed in the reinforced concrete slab is responsible for the heating and cooling of the building. This house was among the very first to use structure heating and cooling in a small-scale building in Hungary. The experiences of the past few years has shown us that the house is not only perfectly functioning but it is also economically feasible not to mention that it is perfect to live in too.

Project Info

  • Project Name Home
  • Location Budapest, Hungary
  • Total floor area 160m2
  • Completion 2014
  • General Design BORD Architectural Studio
  • Head Architect Peter Bordas
  • Mechanical Engineering BORD Architectural Studio - Zoltán Hollókövi
  • Landscape Architecture Gardenworks Ltd. - Andras Kuhn