Reviving Vernacular Heritage:
A Contemporary Take On Traditional Dwellings
Challenging traditional design norms, RAPA Architects have designed a unique architectural project located in Tihany, Hungary. The concept revolves around the design of a contemporary vacation home with a thatched roof and a traditional longhouse contour.
Lake Balaton, the largest in Central Europe, has long been a popular tourist destination in the region. The northern shore of the lake is defined by the slopes of volcanic peaks and the Tihany peninsula. The latter is home to many vineyards, one of the oldest abbeys of Hungary and perhaps, best of all, a magnificent panorama. As a settlement deeply rooted in history, Tihany is characterised by vernacular architecture built in locally sourced materials. Volcanic stone mined in the region is the default building material of wine cellars and boundary walls. Reeds, which grow abundantly on the shores of the lake, have been traditionally used for roofing for hundreds of years. Beyond offering a striking, iconic visual they are also a renewable source of thermal insulation.
RAPA’s Tihany Summer House combines all of the above and then some, as the architectural team wanted to bridge the contemporary, the modern and the traditional at once emphasising context and incorporating disappearing crafts into current architecture.
A cantilevered form with thatched surfaces, Summer House’s layered design emerges outwards from the hillside towards the waters of the lake. The lower storey is informed by the design of local 1960s flat-roofed architecture and clad in rough, volcanic stone. It houses two guest apartments, adjacent to the garden and pool. The upper storey is a play on the traditional, farmhouse-style buildings found on Lake Balaton’s northern shore, which typically have thatched roofs. Reed covers all surfaces of the upper storey, including the underside of the cantilever, celebrating the area’s centuries-old tradition of applying it as a building material. The compact concrete middle storey serves as the main entrance and leads out to an ample outdoor terrace nestled under the overhang of the storey above and down to the pool beneath.
The deconstruction and reinterpretation of this vernacular archetype has earned RAPA, founded in 2018 by Adam Reisz a nomination for the prestigious EUmies Award 2024: The European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture in recognition of excellence in European architecture in conceptual, social, cultural, technical and constructive terms.
Words: Fabrizio Mifsud Soler
Team: Adam Reisz, Levente Arató, Janka Juhász, Krisztián Varga-Koritár
Interior: Adam Reisz, Levente Arató, Dóra Jakab
Images: Tamas Bujnovszky courtesy of RAPA architects
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