Miniature means possible.

Architect Jakub Szczęsny on the project.

Is the Keret House really a house?
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Well, Keret House is an art installation. Although its dimensions are miniature, it can easily be an autonomous place used for living, as well as working. It enables living and working in Wola – which is almost at the heart of Warsaw. It takes form of an insert between two existing buildings which represent different historical periods in Warsaw’s history.
The House is planned to be located on a plot measuring 92 centimeters in its narrowest point and 152 centimeters in its widest point. That is why at first it seems that the construction of a living space within such premise is impossible. Keret House aims to contradict this false image, simultaneously broadening the concept of impossible architecture.

Will it really be possible to live in the Keret House?
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The house will be equipped with all functional elements ranging from a doormat to a refrigerator. Of course, the furnishings are designed to match the scale of the building – the stairs’ last step will serve as a doormat, and the miniature refrigerator will be able to hold only a couple soda cans. It will also have a mini-bathroom and a mini-bed. Each element will be functional.

How will Chłodna and Żelazna Streets change after the Keret House will be erected?
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It will be a change characteristic for all places in which a suggestive, and sometimes enigmatic, artistic tampering with public space took place. The first effect will be that of surprise. One will ask “What is this, really?” In the long-term the Keret House shall be of advantage to the local community and to the district of Wola. It will stimulate the district’s art scene. Intellectuals invited by Etgar Keret will frequently visit the space, not to mention that for the international media the project may become a symbol of the new, contemporary Warsaw – a city that interprets its heritage unconvetionally and is open to non-standard art forms and ideas. For the Wola locals and ordinary tourists it will just be a pleasant surprise. A curiosity.

Why here?
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The house is located here, because it is here that two architectural layers from two historical epochs tangene. The first is a brick building on Żelazna Street – a fragment of the pre-World War II city, almost no longer existing. The second – a cooperative concrete apartment building, an element of an “imposed structure”, which was aimed at negating the previous city landscape. Their adjacency is coincidental – like many architectural structures in Warsaw. Keret House is a perfect example of the so-called “non-matching” in the city’s urban fabric. It is a structure, which by way of contrast separates itself from its surrounding area and at the same time tries to act as its binding element.
Another reason is the city’s war history – the house's location is where two ghettos - the large ghetto and the small ghetto met. Only a few steps from the house stood a footbridge that connected both sealed off areas.


Etgar Keret, an Israeli writer is the ambassador of the Project. Why was he the one who was invited to the House?
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The House will be designed to be used by different artists, but it is Etgar Keret who is the space’s patron and its main, symbolic tenant. First of all – he publically declared that he’d like to move to Warsaw for some time. Secondly, for him this is a symbolic return to the city where his parents met. In practice, he is the one to whom we hand the keys over - he can freely dispose of it and enable its use to other artists and intellectuals willing to spend some time in this narrow space.

How long will the house stand for?
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We hope that at for least 4 years, which, in a way, has to do with the year of European Culture in Wrocław in 2016. We plan to support the idea of the House’s inhabitants’ rotation and create a program of art residencies for artists of various sorts. The artists would spend a couple of hours each day, working and inviting people, chosen for example by a web lottery, for discussions, presentations and readings. This was Etgar’s idea.

So, each citizen of Warsaw can knock on its door?
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I think so, yes. The same way as it is possible for architectural aficionados to knock on the door of various experimental private homes around the world. Their tired inhabitants from time to time open their doors to tourists, which I was a witness of, 15 years ago at the Villa d’Alba in Paris’s Bois de Bologne.

What other projects around the world can you is this project similar to?
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Mainly, to projects of Japanese architects, working on narrow, post- agricultural plots. They’re extraordinarily organized, especially those designed by Satoshi Kurosaki or Fujiwara Muro. Moreover, we can compare them to Dutch houses – to a very narrow house at Singel 7 in Amsterdam or James Holden’s micro-houses.

You live in a narrow space yourself. Are you a miniature-
-project architect?
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My apartment in Warsaw is 21,5 square meters! That’s a lot! In Warsaw we still have many 16 square meter apartments and just recently I had the pleasure of touring a 12 meter pied-à-terre. For an architect challenges in which you have to combine many elements with an existing spacial and budget context are the most interesting ones. That’s why the concept of reduction is fascinating. It deals with entirely new forms of design and ergonomic organization than those presented by design textbooks. It’s an equation with many unknowns.