The bathroom takescentre stage
Maya Zalewska e Marek Kostykiewicz
In spite of its slightly stark appearance, today’s Warsaw is a city of young people, typified by the owners of this small apartment overlooking the old Market Square, a location in the heart of the old town centre brimming with cafés, bookstores, art galleries and restaurants. Similarly youthful are the architects who completely redesigned the building, Maya Zalewska and Marek Kostykiewicz. « Our clients were unconcerned about the fact that the house had a limited floor space, » explained Kostykiewicz. « Above all they were in love with the old town, and this where they had chosen to live. Of course the spaces had to be reorganised functionally, and above all divided up on a rational basis. The owners wanted a living area that would offer a degree of privacy from the main entrance, an independent kitchen with a breakfast corner, and a double bedroom with walk-in wardrobe. But above all, they wanted a comfortable bathroom with a large shower without having to give up the bath or mini laundry. Overturning all the rules, » Kostykiewicz continued, « we took this room as the starting point to rethink the distribution of the interiors according to a new bathroom concept – that of converting this crucial space in the dynamics of a home into a place of calm and intimacy, the last bastion of privacy. » The architects made a fundamental creative contribution to redefining the look of this room. Fascinated by the possibility of reinventing a material as old as ceramic, Kostykiewicz and Zalewska decided to create a simple but truly special volume – so special in fact that it won an international award (third place in the first edition of The Quinquennial Tile Award promoted by the Fincibec Group) for a project making innovative use of ceramic materials.
The architects’ winning idea was to clad the entire wet zone (bath and shower) with dark coloured porcelain tiles with a metallic effect surface (M.ono series from Monocibec in a 25×50 cm size), thereby creating a warm, intimate alcove that stands in stark contrast to the pure white of the sanitary fixtures, the walls and the floor. Moreover, the skilful use of narrow corridors of light based on LED technology brings the geometric texture of the ceramic tiles to life. As soon as water begins to flow from the large shower head, the micro-holes that dot the surface create a magical profusion of light and reflections. The wood panelling used on the outside of the bath and extending to the entrance door mitigates the contrast and lends warmth to the room.
Although absent from the bathroom, strong colours are used in the rest of the apartment to reflect the youthful tastes of the owners. Unusual choices of decor alternate with vibrant fields of canary yellow and dark blue on the walls of the living and sleeping areas.
The intentionally strong contrast with the other rooms in the house further accentuates the key role played by the bathroom. This strategy was confirmed by the architects themselves, who, when asked which room they believed to be the most successful, answered without hesitation: « The bathroom » – a view fully shared by the home owners.