The property where a two flat condo, built in the nineties, had to be transformed into a liveable family home, suitable for the needs of a twenty-first century person. We talked with Péter Lenzsér, the architect of the house, how an existing property can be transformed to turn it into a modern building, reflecting its environment.
What was the biggest challenge in this property, in terms of architecture?
There was an existing two flat condo, with a breath-taking view towards the town. The developer fell in love with this view. However, for legal and technical reasons the old building, which did not reflect its environment, could not be demolished; instead it had to be demolished to a certain level and transformed. The main issue was how to resolve the issue of reflecting the environment, and closing systems played a key role in this. After the structural transformation, brand new closing systems were installed: where “hole” architecture had to be applied we kept it but, on the other floors, the greatest possible opening was an expectation, as well as a minimum visibility of these structural elements. We tried to hide the very nice innovative closing systems in the floor surface cover and ceiling. We exploited the potential of the minimal casing structure of panoramic systems with sills, sinking into the floor, which give an amazing look in this way. By installing glass shields next to each other we have installed a nearly 16 metre-long U-shaped closing structure, with sleek sliding wings, which I believe to be a very elegant solution for this architectural gesture. And the developer gave another major task: from a house built in the nineties, with no extra building engineering and electronic solutions, we had to create a smart house, which knows everything.
I think the key dynamic in this house was how to create a state-of-the-art unique property in an existing structure, using architectural solutions. What was the most special solution in this job?
This was a property built using traditional construction methods, with two flats, structural walls, and as I mentioned, with tiny windows installed in a wooden structure, even on the floors with the best view. We removed practically all load-bearing walls and, in addition to the back wall, only four steel columns hold the slab structure above. I very much enjoyed the challenges implied in this building of how an existing building with no particular architectural value can be transformed to meet completely different expectations. I considered this a much more exciting task than demolishing the entire building and designing a new house for the plot. It involved many interesting tasks: finding the entrance, accommodating the cars, creating a single flat from two flats, establishing links with the garden.
Why did you choose KAV for this job?
Closing systems, the internal and external separation of spaces, played a key role in this transformation. Internal closing systems are very exciting in the house; they played an important role in the so-called translation, making it meet the new criteria. Since then, the solutions used here, in this building, have popped up in other jobs.
When we started the work, we carefully considered which closing structure systems would be able to resolve this task. My colleagues and I usually find the most suitable solution for each job with, so we are not committed to any system, material or company. We therefore examined what would happen if a metal structure were used for the closing systems of this property. For many flats and houses it is simply not an option, since many people would not commit to metal closing systems in their home. Fortunately, in this case the developer almost insisted on it. Of course first we had to explain what advantages aluminium could offer; I could draw his attention to many solutions that otherwise could have been implemented only at the price of “huge pain” and compromises. Then we started to look for companies that were in any way able to implement these technical solutions. We got to KAV through a connection, where an old colleague of mine from the university, Csaba Mravik, responded my e-mail.
And what did you experience during your joint work?
It was immediately interesting that, unlike our past experience, we did not have to choose from a brochure, i.e. we did not have to choose from specific solutions but individual solutions were “offered” for the specific issue. I, and nearly all my colleagues, felt that at KAV they similarly considered the project as a challenge; they tried to invent and sell something unique, and worked to manufacture and install the solutions I discovered in the best possible and an innovative manner. Out of the companies I’ve worked with, KAV gave me the most technical support.
From the viewpoint of architect, doesn’t it make you feel that somebody is trying to take over the lead?
No, fortunately not. The difference is that I have never felt about KVA that they are window distributors. But still they are, although they are actually manufacturers, but they work using a completely different approach. I didn’t feel like I was in a salon selling imported windows when I was looking for an answer to a problem, but that we were looking for individual options with a team of engineers. There was a task we had to resolve and we were looking for the technical implementation options. When an issue arose on the construction site, KAV never said that the window was faultless and ready, but we were thinking about the solution jointly, and the end result was how to make the best of that issue. The answer was not to replace it with a commercial solution but to find the most advantageous and amazing alternative. And in this way an excellent solution was born. One probably cannot expect a window distributor or domestic manufacturer to think about resolving technical issues, and I received this from KAV, for which I will be eternally grateful.