Residential House in Kaunas by Gintautas Natkevičius

Residential House in Kaunas is a modern single-story house located in Lithuania, designed in 2021 by Gintautas Natkevičius.

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The house is located in a picturesque part of the city of Kaunas, in Kleboniškis forest.

The place itself is interesting, because it is a forest, there is a river nearby, and although it is not very close, the feeling of the river is felt. As the house is an object located in the middle of the block, sufficient pull back, distance from the neighbors and the street was created and at the same time the house was naturally integrated into the structure of the forest. A plus-shaped scheme with an inner courtyard was chosen, which made it possible to create such internal spaces, recesses, which naturally distance the facade from the neighboring plot. In addition, thanks to each element of that plus shape, separate flanks were created, like separate houses, and although the volume scheme of the house is quite clear, at the same time, the outline of the house is dynamic, enabling it to respond to the existing forest environment. The aim was to wrap the house between the trees, in every nook, that bay to create a kind of zoomed-in nature, leaving the trees or planting something new, so depending on the functional or environmental needs, the house was either shrank or its boundaries through the center of the house’s flanks were expanded.

With the strong effect of the vertical wholeness of the brown forest trunks, an attempt was made to make the aesthetics of the house as earthy as possible, the building not to be bricked up, but like a pile of bricks to stack on a concrete pad. Where privacy was needed, more bricks were added, and where needed to open up, it was smoothed and the glass planes left in order to let as much of the feeling of the forest into the rooms as possible.

Living in the middle of the forest, the inner courtyard provides different orientations in terms of the sun, as each flank of the house has three facades, the inner courtyard provides a fourth. In those four separate houses next to each other, the feeling of light, the feeling of the flow of the day is very felt, because depending on the time of day, the light is constantly changing, and that feeling of time is always very pleasant, because in combination with nature, it creates a living, changing picture through the large showcase windows.

The inner courtyard provides the versatility of light and at the same time a completely private yard. Since the object is bordered by streets and neighbors, the inner yard always remains private, an oasis of peace. The courtyard becomes like a central axis, because it provides the opportunity being in the living space to see the forest and the cultured courtyard. The living space is limited by different forms of the field: cultured courtyard and real forest. This allows to feel calm, no matter how the block, the whole area develops – it has a minimal impact, because at every moment there is an opportunity to go out into the forest or retreat into the depth of the building. The courtyard is like a bright axis that orients the whole life very nicely, because being in the living room you have the opportunity to see how the family moves around that courtyard, and in the summer, when the spaces open up, the courtyard becomes an imaginary room that combines other functions together with the living space, so an opportunity arises to move across the yard.

The cultured theme appeared because of the surrounding vibrating beautiful forest formed by pine trunks, an aim was to create a Japanese feeling inside, peace, because of that water, the trickling of water, an additional reflection effect through the water, sound appeared, a strong source of peace.

The interior spaces took on many directions: it became possible to face the forest, the courtyard, a very quiet environment or the natural environment, so an aim was to emphasize that connection with naturalness in the interior itself. The interior was consciously made rough so that the light of different times of the day would cast shadows on the walls not sharply, but have a little roughness of the tree trunk to reveal through the nuance, the texture, that soft peace would be, vibration in that light, in the play of shadows, even in the evening, when the artificial light turns on.

In the interior several pieces of black stone furniture appeared, volumes of delicate basalt variegation to maintain vibrancy, not to be flat. Each volume of black ceramic became a central element in the interior. Such volumetric solutions subtly contrast with the bright inner courtyard, for example, the living room furniture, which has an integrated fireplace and which is practically invisible interacts together with the courtyard, the courtyard has a natural line, water, plants, while the living room volume has a fire, all the elements are next to each other.

These expressed volumes are objects placed in the space, they are removed from the walls in order to be bypassed. They do not close the space, but create some privacy. The volumes of the wardrobe and fireplace furniture slightly separate from the outside, from the angle where the approach is, the main entrance, but do not completely close it. The Showcase, which is at the entrance, lets in light, you feel that there is a space behind, that there is a yard behind, these volumes cover – from the street side, you can feel that somebody is inside, lives, but is not visible directly.

From the living room, which is a more active, noisy area where guests gather, the aim was not to make a direct transition to the bedrooms, but to extend the path around the inner courtyard, so that walking along the water, the growing plants would become a process of calming down. The volume of the bedrooms and the volume of the living room are connected through intrigue, touch each other, but are not related to each other. The yard crosses them, and at the same time this coupling completely closes it from the outside, the surrounding field, the forest.

The construction of prefabricated structures was chosen, there are no columns in the bypassing spaces or the corridor, pillars and other structural elements were avoided in order to lighten the whole structure and create the minimum separation so that they do not interfere, and the ability to move in a circle would create a sense of common space. Because the yard is a very strong player in the interior.

When a person is in the living room or the bedroom and sees that the space is still around behind those volumes, that space becomes imaginary, the person does not know how big it is, but he knows that it is there, so the sense of spaciousness increases even more and it allows the light that falls into the living space through the showcase windows, begins to slide over the edges of the furniture, slides through that volume, spreads along the ground and above the ground, enveloping it with light.

The aim was to expand the boundaries of the house, to create an uninterrupted relationship with nature, being in a cultured forest, in that inner courtyard and seeing the treetops, the feeling of being in the forest within one step.

Photography by Lukas Mykolaitis

- by Matt Watts