This is a very nice story. I like writing about positive occurrences in this world that involve talented and compassionate people who seem to rise above all of the craziness. It is sometimes hard to imagine that people can still concentrate on artistic ventures in these times
of monetary crises and uprisings and who knows what. But its good to know that the heart and soul can win out in the end and the human need for creativity and passion never dissipates.
This story involves a very talented architect from Poland and a talented writer in Israel. The architect, Jakub Szczesny, is a member of a collective called Centrala, which is known for it’s experimental architecture. One day while walking down a street in the old Jewish ghetto in Warsaw he saw this space…he called it a “cushion of air”… between a prewar and a postwar building and was inspired to create an architectural connection between the two.
The talented writer lives in Israel and his name is Etgar Keret. Keret is of Jewish heritage and his family lived and died in the Warsaw ghetto during WW II. An acclaimed writer, Keret is especially noted for his excellent collections of very short stories.
Szczesny saw a connection between Keret’s background and the short stories and his dream to construct this sliver of a building. Deciding that Keret would be the ideal resident for his yet to be constructed house, he visited him in Israel to discuss the project. The two connected and the rest is history. Now the problem was how Szczesny was going to construct the house, aka Keret House, and what would it look like.
The space between the buildings is 5′ at its widest point and 36″ at its narrowest. Keret House does not touch either of the buildings so it’s final dimensions range from 4′ to 28″. The goal was to design something that had the integrity of a house within that confines.
Needless to say, there were many challenges and design hurdles to jump over in order to accomplish this task. Unique construction solutions had to be devised, special equipment from Germany had to be brought to the site, access and ventilation had to be devised. Ingenious details had to be designed to maximize the minimal amount of space so that someone could enter and move around. And resolutions on how to provide sufficient light had to be dreamed up. And then there was the $64,000 design question: Could someone actually live in such a small, narrow space?
Believe it or not, Keret House actually has an entry room, a bedroom, a kitchen, a bathroom and a desk at which to work. It is completely done in white inside with splashes of colors thrown into the furnishings. So, I guess the answer to that question is “yes,” provided that person is not claustrophobic!
Truth be told, according to the law, Keret House is too small to be considered a home or residence in Warsaw. The city has classified it as an art installation and the plan for the future is for Keret and Szczesny to select various artists to reside within it’s narrow confines for short terms.
On a serious level, Szczesny accomplished what he set out to do on all three levels: architecturally, socially and culturally. Aside from creating an artistic statement, he has provided Keret with a “home” that is symbolic of the one his family lost during the war and a memorial to the deaths of his family.
Keret’s House stands out as a symbol of intelligent creativity and artistic endeavor. I am not sure whether or not the city will allow it to remain forever…but it would be fun to actually have the opportunity to climb those stairs and stay overnight!
Nice story, right?
Ciao, ciao ’til next time!