Etgar Keret, the celebrated Israeli author, on Friday unveiled Keret House billed as the world’s narrowest abode and destined to become a home away from home for artists in an area of the Polish capital that was the Warsaw Ghetto during the Holocaust.
The brain child of Polish architect Jakub Szczesny, this rectangular metal-framed capsule wedged between two housing blocks is just a little over two feet wide at its narrowest point, expanding to a total four (72-122 centimetres).
Both of Keret’s parents were Polish Jews who survived the Holocaust, his father hiding in a closet likely the width of the new art-house.
“For me personally because of my background, my mother being the sole survivor from my family from the Warsaw Ghetto, it feels like some sort of virtual homecoming,” Keret, 45, told reporters Friday in the Polish capital as he unveiled the world’s narrowest home.
“I’m Israeli, I live in Israel but the fact that the Keret House is here, it creates for me some sort of a bridge between my present and my family’s past,” said Keret, adding he had brought books and family photos to give the space a cozy feel.
Architect Szczesny, 38, said he was inspired by a narrow space between the two buildings while strolling around the neighbourhood and dreamt up the narrow abode as a hermitage for authors.
“This building is right next to what was the wall of the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II,” Szczesny told AFP. A passageway linking the northern and southern parts of the ghetto was also nearby.
“Bearing this in mind, I hit upon the idea that the house should be for Etgar Keret, one of the most popular Israeli authors in Poland, especially among young readers,” he said.
The compact two-floor home located between Chlodna 22 and Zelazna 74 streets took six months to build. Inside, the space feels like the cabin of a pleasure boat, and both Keret and Szczesny hope it will become a hub of creativity.
“This will be a place where artists and intellectuals from across the world who are invited by Etgar, myself and others will be able to stay for short periods of time,” he added.
A year after invading Poland on September, 1 1939, Nazi Germany set up the Warsaw Ghetto in the heart of the occupied Polish capital in October 1940. Nearly half a million Polish Jews were confined in its squalid quarters, measuring just three square kilometers (1.2 square miles).
The Nazis deported those who did not fall victim to rampant hunger and disease in the Ghetto to death camps, primarily to nearby Treblinka. They razed the area to the ground in April 1943 during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, the first large-scale armed rebellion against Hitler’s forces during World War II which ultimately failed.