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In Prague, a House Without a Key

  • September 18, 2020

Sitting at the kitchen table, Mr. Hanzlik pointed out the only window in the house that can be opened manually. “That was for Michaela,” he said.

The home’s design, distinguished by the contrast of its bright white polyurethane flooring and walls with dark European walnut accents — including its sloping central staircase — supports the system.

“From my experience, it is difficult to distinguish where the architecture begins and where the system begins,” Mr. Hanzlik said. “The two are intertwined and complementary.”

The home’s spiral design helps with airflow, as does the succession of opening and closing doors.

“The shape of the house becomes part of the tool,” Mr. Hanzlik said. “A door is not just a door, it’s part of several layers of the system.”

“We were looking for something that will be for the next century,” Mr. Panek said. “In the 21st century, the world will look very different.”

Though built to last, Villa Sophia is in a constant state of change, continually adapting.

“It does not scare me anymore, like in the beginning,” Mrs. Pankova said in an email, about living in the home. “My husband took care of many back-up systems that provide us with the safety (such as in case of a power failure). I feel more free not to have to take care of many things. However, our house is a prototype of the technology, which means that from time to time, changes are made to test new things.

“So the house is never completed so to speak,” she continued. “It develops with you and with your needs, which can be challenging.”

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