Black rock house seems like boulder in mountains

| 18 : 00 – 25 November 2018 |


‘Black rock’ house designed by MUS Architects seems like an abstract form boulder set in Southern Poland’s mountainous terrain.

Inspired by surrounding topography, Black rock house is an outstanding architectural expression exempt of the regular building forms. Perched along a sloped mountain, the body and form of the house was developed as per the natural landscape. This resulted in a dynamic relationship between the abode and outside terrain. The southern facade opens to the landscaped garden which provide stunning views of the mountainscape. Multiple award-winning MUS Architects integrated the home as raw black shell enclosed around multiple internal levels and living spaces.


Roofline inspired by mountain terrain

From the Architect – 

The main idea was to create something different and original. Not just a single-family house, but an abstract form. We wanted to create a building that refers to the mountainous area, a house that seems to be a result of tectonics and not design processes. This thought was the starting point of the project and the frame that kept the space composition in check.


Northside facade – Black rock house


Therefore, we tried to design and implement the concept of a space by escaping the standards associated with single-family houses. We wanted this house to emerge like an erratic boulder embedded in a mountain slope, not an architectural form with walls, windows and a roof.


Black shell

Form –

“Black Rock” originates from the topography of mountainous terrains. “The Rock” is not a cuboid, a cube or a classic house with a gable roof.  It is an abstract multifaceted solid without obvious division into walls and a roof. In the south, the house opens up to the garden, the sun and the view of the Beskids (mountains). The southern wall is high and includes openings such as glazing, terrace and loggia, which provide the panoramic view. The northern facade mostly consists of a roof slope falling to the plot border – the house’s wall is low and closed here.


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Northern facade mostly consists of a roof slope falling to the plot border

Structure, Form, Material –

The plot is situated on the slope of the mountain. It has a clear decline both in the south and east. The initial plan of the house was adjusted to the slope so that the entire ground floor sits on the ground surface. Based on the natural terrain, the horizontal floor plan was broken half way through. As a result, the entrance zone with a garage and supplementary rooms is on a different level from the living room, kitchen and dining room. A half-floor has been created so the entire living area is directly connected with the terrace and garden.


Floor plans


This design process led to the division of floors in the night part of the house (first floor) and as a consequence we created the multi-pitched roof, whose refraction’s follow the faults resulting from the house’s functional layout in the actual area.

Thus, the form of the roof and the body result from the functional design objectives being adapted to the landscape.

The building’s geometry was built into the topography of the mountain, highly impacting the house’s structure and its final dynamic form. There is a strong relationship between the building and the surrounding landscape.

Site location of the Black rock house


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Conceptual diagram


The external character of the house is formed by its multi-layered form as well as by the material which was used as a packaging of the function. The homogeneous and raw black shell conceals internal spaces and levels. Sharp, jagged boulder, black slate or basalt lump sticking out of the mountain slope, instead of a classic suburban house.


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Black basalt rock


The entire creative process was based on the original idea. It became the genesis of the project and was brought through the entire design and construction process, until the end – the implementation of the “Black Rock”.


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Levels adjusted as per the topography

The genesis of the house’s  shape –

  • Determining the horizontal floor plan along the northern boundary of the plot;
  • Designation of arcades: entrance and garden;
  • Adjusting the levels of the horizontal floor plan to the topography of the area; The driveway is much higher than the garden. We implemented a breakage in the horizontal floor plan. The living area opens onto the garden, at the same time being situated lower than the entrance zone and the garage;


Wall and window joinery detail

  • Another consequence of the design strategy is the functional layout of the first floor. Horizontal floor plan continues the breakage that was introduced in the lower floor. Two rooms and a closet were placed in the upper part of the plot above the garage. The remaining floors are situated in the lower part of the house, above the kitchen and dining room. In the living area, the desired higher ceiling was also obtained – empty space above the living room;
  • The most important rooms were situated in the southern part of the plot. They open to the sun, garden and the view. Supplementary rooms are at the northern side.
  • The local plan imposed the necessity of designing a roof sloping in the designated range (from-to). However, the number of roofs and the location of the ridge have not been imposed.


Living and dining space connects to outdoors

  • The form of the roof is the result of the design process. It is a flexible packaging, closely related to the function, and in this particular case also to the original location​. The roof follows the function. And the function adapts to the topography and the landscape​.
  • The form is associated with the function and topography.


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Southside roof inclines towards the entrance

Landscape Planning – 

On the plot that significantly declines towards the south, we designed a single-family detached home. It consists of all the functional features we have planned. The living area and a garage for two cars, as well as an additional room on the ground floor. The total area of ​​the house is 260 square metres.

The building was located along the northern side of the plot. The entrance is planned from the west side, away from the border in such a way that it is easy to access and park at the property. A large part of the plot in the south remains undeveloped – there is a garden and terraces with the view of the mountains.


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Dynamic westside entrance to house

Project details – 

Project Name – Black Rock House

Location – Bielsko-Biała, Poland

Architect Firm – MUS Architects |

Lead Architects – Adam Zwierzynski, Anna Porebska

Project type – Residence, Single family house

Photography  – © Tomasz Zakrzewski

Completion Year – 2018

Construction Area – 260 sq. m. (Ground floor 168 m2 + First floor 92 m2)

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