It can sometimes be hard to find the motivation to leave the comfort of your own home. With the Internal Landscape Villa, a residential project in Nový Jičín, the Czech Republic, Atelier Štěpán takes motivation out of the equation by bringing the outside in. Featuring a spacious atrium, an open concept interior and an abundance of circular skylights, the villa blurs the physical distinction between the interior environment and the outside world.
Atelier Štěpán is known for its ability to perfectly balance abstract art with minimal architecture. With this villa, the firm applies this sensibility to create a unique yet clean, modern home designed to evoke an “inner disposition,” in which occupants naturally flow through the building.
Despite the initial challenges of siting a home on such a small plot of uneven land, the design team embraced the location’s natural terrain and historical context. Taking on such a feat clearly paid off as it resulted in the iconic sloping profile of the villa, which blends perfectly into the small site, as its geometry incorporates the street incline into the architectural design and overall functionality.
Marek Jan Štěpán, Atelier Štěpán’s founder, describes how his 11-year-old daughter instantly formed a deep connection to the villa upon seeing it for the first time. And it’s easy to see how she came to feel this way about the space, particularly its most notable feature: the breathtaking atrium. This feature is completely enclosed but can be accessed from several entryways within the home. Lined with locust-board flooring and white concrete walls, it reinvents the relationship between domestic interiors and outdoor spaces. The atrium houses a small plunge pool, a hot sauna, and a grassy area — all within the four walls of the home.
Whether it’s the end of a long day or a tranquil early morning, this sanctuary within the villa is perfect for when the home’s occupants need to clear their heads while enjoying the view. The use of minimal materials frees this space of all distractions to create the possibility of a deeper connection with the outside atmosphere.
Locust panels make up the dividing wall between the atrium and the villa’s facade. The porous, architectural wooden feature has the welcoming effect of opened window shutters — squint and the barrier seems to completely disappear. While still providing a layer of privacy, the open-concept wall lets in just as much sunlight and natural air circulation as an open window. As a result of limited space on the ground plane, horizontal planters throughout the villa’s layout integrate as much greenery as possible without dedicated front and backyards.
Atelier Štěpán incorporated a skylight into nearly every room of the villa. These apertures bring natural light into the most central parts of the home, such as the dining area and den. Their strategic placement throughout the villa creates a path of natural light that flows through the villa.
Atelier Štěpán considered sustainability at every step of the design and construction process of the Internal Landscape Villa. Solar panels were installed on the roof to provide the main source of energy for the building. The atrium also contributes to reducing the villa’s carbon footprint, as it houses a reservoir that collects rainwater which can be repurposed and used within the home. The firm has brought landscape and architecture together to create a villa that beautifully articulates a playful balance between minimalism and abstraction.
In the Czech Republic, Atelier Štěpán reinvents the domestic backyard to create a new type of outdoor-centred domesticity.