Driven by the ongoing problem that is the COVID-19 pandemic and inspired by the idea of isolation, Sergey Makhno Architects have developed an innovative underground house concept — Plan B. The task was to create a cozy and safe home in the depths of the earth. Plan B is an autonomous house, which competes with ground residences in terms of comfort and equipment. Take a look at the complete story after the jump.
From the architects: “If you don’t listen to the world with an open heart and mind, if you don’t pay attention to what’s going on around you, what the air smells like, what people say, the world starts dictating its cruel, cruel rules,” says the founder and creative leader of Ukrainian design, architecture, and ceramics studio, Serhii Makhno.
We offer you a short trip to a depth of 15 metres and below. There is an autonomous house, which competes with ground residences in terms of comfort and equipment.
From the outside, Plan B resembles the entrance to a museum of modern art, or even to a military base. We tried to create a simple and concise form, which in all its perspective would speak of reliability, but also be aesthetically attractive, it would not intimidate and lets you in from both the ground and from the air.
The massive concrete structure is equipped with three entrances and a helipad on the roof. It occupies only 172 square meters and can be placed either near the main house or, in our case, somewhere in the woods.
According to international recommendations, the upper floor is at a depth of 15 metres. Penetrating deeper our “pie” has the following layers: a living space, a floor with a water treatment system and generator, a layer of electrical equipment, and at the very bottom — a well.
The Plan B bunker has three exits, and the fire-resistant evacuation “ring” can be reached from almost anywhere. This is done in case of the event of danger inside the bunker, its inhabitants do not spend time getting out (especially given the floor area), but can immediately get to the evacuation route, for example, from the bathroom or gym.
Of course, all systems in the Plan B underground building are autonomous. Water supply, sewerage, closed ventilation system with recuperation, intake, and air purification. Whatever happens on the Earth’s surface, life in Plan B will continue.
The systems will be developed in detail at the project stage together with specialized contractors. At present, we have developed a design proposal for the bunker, our own vision.
The main building mass is reinforced concrete, the strongest duo, and the optimal cost. The doors are automatic but have the option of manual control. Directly next to the entrance to the bunker, there is a disinfection shield, behind it — a quartz zone.
The main spiral staircase and elevator lead to the underground building, as well as two flights of spiral staircases for staff and loading stocks — so the flows are distributed and do not interfere with each other.
Let’s start with the fact that we have arranged a fish pool. In a separate room, there is a garden with Phyto-equipment, where you can grow vegetables and some fruits. Also on the living floor, there is a large warehouse of food. Staff rooms are grouped in a separate area.
In the underground building Plan B, there is a separate room for medical care, with an isolator and a closed area for storing stocks of medicines.
“Security comes first. My priority was ensuring comfortable sleep, temperature, quality food, water, and air. The rest is just for comfort,” says the studio’s chief engineer Olha Sobchyshyna.
Apartment with a view
The project proposal provides comfortable living for two or three families with children and staff with their families. If necessary, the project can be redesigned for a much larger number of people, but at this stage, we are interested in experimenting with the underground space in such a way as to create the illusion of being above the surface — as if you could look out the window and see the blue sky.
Plan B has two master bedrooms, which consist of a sleeping area, an enclosed storage area for things, and a bathroom. The main task in designing both was to change the awareness of space and its boundaries.
Master bedroom “Mickey”
At first glance, these apartments are no different from the terrestrial. A minimalistic and calm space, where a Kaws guards your dreams, and above the bed, are the author’s KHMARA clouds from Serhii Makhno, which never rain. But if you pay attention to the architecture of the design, you will notice the lack of sharp angles — the shape of the room is almost cylindrical. This technique is not often used in terrestrial architecture, but here it immediately helps us to create the illusion of infinity, as if the walls do not exist.
Opposite the bed, there is a stone garden, which ends with a highly sensitive screen-window, the view of which can be changed at a touch of a button on the control panel of the Smart Home system — for example, snow-capped mountains or a sleepy morning street in Kyiv. Moreover, you can “open” the window and feel a light breeze or a smell of freshly cut grass.
Master bedroom “Ivy”
Again, we do not divide the space by walls in the usual way. Between the thematic areas — only weightless partitions, which are as part of a maze that begins far beyond the horizon and ends
somewhere on the other side of the world. On a physical level, it feels like there is something behind them, leading into infinity.
In this room, for the first time in our project, stainless steel appears. When we thought about which of the materials we would like to take with us underground, this was one of the first. Concise, practical, suitable for different types of premises. Here it simultaneously divides and connects the wardrobe and the shower room.
The second trick we used in this room was a game with several levels of light. The design of the ceiling provides an allusion to a light lantern: in the ceiling, there is a dome with a LED-system, which gives the impression that above us there is the floor with windows and in these windows, there is the sky.
The space is as empty as possible, it is a place of peace, where there is nothing to be bored with during a long stay in these walls. Of the decorations, there is only quiet ivy, which does not need the sun for happiness.
“Modern people are too accustomed to freedom and lack of restrictions. Life in a bunker, even a very comfortable one, is life within frames. We tried to design the space so that people could feel them minimally, ” says a co-author of the project, architect Ihor Havrylenko.
Places of common use are as close as possible to how we used to live on earth. Here is a large dining table where all inhabitants can gather together. A library where you can stay alone, but where you will not be alone. A cinema with comfortable chairs, powerful acoustics, a 5D system, and a collection of the best films of all time.
“We decided to make the kitchen professional — cooking can become a great new hobby. In any case, residents will be here quite often. And in general, I think that stainless steel for kitchen surfaces is a great solution not only for restaurants but also for living spaces,” says a co-author of the project, designer Oleksandr Makhno.
The decor here is again a green wall, author’s KHMARA clouds, and chrome Tetrapods around the perimeter.
“For us, the task was extremely simple and difficult at the same time — to make the bunker a modern, cozy house,” says architect Oleksandr Bokhan.
A living room with a large sofa is like a cozy metropolitan apartment. And outside the window, there is a real picture of daylight as it should be on the surface. It is created so that biorhythms do not get lost and there was no substitution of the feeling of day and night.
Healthy body, healthy spirit, and future
We paid a lot of attention to the areas for sports, recreation, and recovery. The physical and spiritual bodies are an integral unit, and when one feels bad, the other cannot feel good.
Let’s start with the pool area. It is separated from the general sports zone by a screen and due to lighting it strongly differs in the mood. There is no daylight in the pool, the main source of light here is greenish
lighting at the bottom of the pool. Bluish walls, islands of “earth” — it seems like you are swimming in the night sea, not in a soulless sports pool.
The area of exercise bikes is filled with the same drive of disco halls: lighting and acoustics are appropriate here. The zone of multifunctional simulators is already a classic gym with daylight and concentration on achieving the set goals.
Thanks to such solutions, we create different scenarios, anticipating different moods: from meditatively drifting by in an imaginary sea to a hardcore workout on the back muscles.
And once more we meet the rounding of the space, it doubles in the mirrors, the flow of walls into the ceiling — all in order to create a feeling of lightness, infinity.
“We sought to create a space in which we would like to live, even when there is no apocalypse. Natural materials, the most preserved smells, textures, fibers,” comments an architect Maryna Hrechko.
In the center of the cylindrical meditation room, there is a powerful beam of light, which allows you to change the light schemes on the ceiling. It can be a starry sky, rainy sky, or even sunbeams.
“For comfort”: bike path and walks with a pet
Plan B did not forget about possible pets, equipping a special area for walking dogs. Here everything is at a maximum as on the street: wood, stones, grass. The evacuation circle can also serve as a place for long walks and for cycling.
We tried to convey the physical world as much as possible at the expense of materials and simplicity of decisions. And the intangible world — at the expense of architectural techniques, technologies, and human imagination.
“This project is a release from emotions, a reflection on the continuation of human life under any circumstances, and an attempt to find an answer to the question of whether architecture can create the impression of life at the surface while being in its depths,” sums up Serhii Makhno.
Team: Serhii Makhno, Olha Sobchyshyna, Oleksandr Makhno, Ihor Havrylenko, Maryna Hrechko, Oleksandr Bokhan, Serhii Filonchuk
PR: Tatiana Vakula, Maria Fedko, Daria Sushko
PM: Maryna Vasylishyna
Visual design of the case: Ihor Havrylenko
Area: 2 280 m²
Find more projects by Sergey Makhno Architects: mahno.com.ua