Israeli Author Makes World’s Skinniest House Home in Warsaw 72 Years After His Family Left
An Israeli author remembers a story his mother told him about the time before she was orphaned in Poland during the Holocaust. She said she wanted to give up and die, but her father told her that it was her mission to survive and prevent the Nazi’s from “[erasing] our family name from the land.”
The name Keret now is on the front door of what could arguably be the world’s skinniest house, giving the Keret’s a home in Poland after 72 years.
Over the weekend, Etgar Keret, a writer known for his short stories, moved into a house built by architect Jakub Szczesny that is only four feet wide, but still comes complete with a bathroom, a kitchen and a bedroom.
On Friday, Keret wrote in Tablet Magazine about his new, occasional homestead — he won’t be living in the skinny house full time. He writes of his excitement to be going home. “Here’s how this happened,” he writes:
Three years ago, Jakub Sazczesny, a Polish architect, called me and tried to explain by phone that he wanted to build a home for me in Warsaw, the narrowest home in the world. At the time, I thought his crazy idea, along with his heavily Polish-accented English, which made our conversation comical, had to be a practical joke engineered by one of my friends. A few weeks later, Jakub arrived in Israel, and when I met him face to face, I realized that he was totally serious. The idea was to build a house with the same proportions as my stories: as minimalist and as small as possible. When Jakub first saw the unused space between two houses at 22 Chlodna Street, he decided that he had to build something there. When we met, he showed me the building plans for a narrow, three-story house.
After bringing the plans for the space back to his mother, Keret continued writing that she recognized the street as a place where she, as a girl, had smuggled food to her parents. He wrote “it’s a pushy little home,” going on to describe it as a home that says:
A family once lived in this city. They’re not here anymore, but everyone who walks past me will have to stop for a minute and look at my narrow, defiant body, look at the sign and remember that family’s name.
The house has been named the Keret House.
Szczesny said Friday he designed the two-story aluminum and plastic house three years ago to fill a narrow space between a pre-war house and a modern apartment block in downtown Warsaw.
The Foundation of Polish Modern Art and Warsaw Town Hall helped fund the project, which they consider an art work.
The triangular building runs 33 feet deep at the base and stands 30 feet tall. Metal and aluminum pipes hold the structure nearly 10 feet above the ground. To enter, visitors climb a metal staircase and squeeze through a hole to enter the building.
The ground floor contains a toilet and shower, a kitchen with a sink and cupboards, a table for two, and a bean bag sofa. Another metal ladder goes to the second floor, which has a nearly double-size bed, a table and a chair, according to the Associated Press. Yahoo! Homes writer analyzes this language stating that “‘nearly double-size’ sounds like code for a twin bed to us, and that ‘sofa’ appears to stretch the definition, too.”
Watch this BBC World News video showing footage of the home:
Szczesny told Friday’s news conference that the building achieves two goals: filing an empty city space and linking Warsaw’s World War II tragedy, when more than half the city was destroyed, with modern buildings that went up afterward.
“It is a kind of a memorial to my family,” said Keret, explaining that his mother’s and father’s families died in the Holocaust under Nazi Germany’s occupation of Poland, and his paternal grandfather died in Warsaw’s 1944 uprising against the Nazis.
Keret said he only visits Warsaw twice a year, so other tenants will be able to try out the tight quarters of the non-profit building for free, too.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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