Dark Towers to Beach Bunkers: Architecture of Hugon Kowalski


Rising from natural surroundings, the towers of ‘Instant House’ are harsh and spare, a far cry from the often lush biologically-inspired visuals of eco-friendly architecture. Just from this one example, it’s clear that Hugon Kowalski of Polish firm H3AR Architecture and Design has a uniquely urban and utilitarian approach to sustainable structures that inevitably stands out from the crowd.

Kowalski’s proposals, including the aforementioned Instant House, temporary residential units made of styrofoam concrete cylinders, stand like visions for a post-apocalyptic future. Although they are often described as bleak and reminiscent of the harsh clumsiness of now-abandoned Soviet structures, Kowalski’s projects are, above all, practical, meeting the challenges of the future head-on.


Instant House is designed to be constructed quickly and easily; in 2014, Kowalski says, it will be possible to produce concrete from rice husks, reducing carbon dioxide emissions during the manufacturing process. Another project, House on the Beach, above, is inspired by the design of the four-legged concrete tetrapod, which is meant to prevent beach erosion – essentially giving beach houses a function. Rather than being little more than inevitable casualties during a tsunami or other disaster, they serve as the front line in a battle against the ravaging forces of nature, breaking up the waves.


Kowalski imagines, for the stark deserts of Sudan, watertower skyscrapers that can access water in an existing underground lake beneath Darfur – the tenth largest in the world – and pump it to the surface. Inside these structures are not only the pumps but also a water treatment plant, a hospital, a school and a food storage center. Constructed using compressed dry clay bricks made on site from local materials, the towers would use some of the circulated water to heat or cool the buildings.