Topoi Engelsbrand / Office for Architecture Stocker

© Brigida Gonzalez

Architect: Office for Architecture Stocker
Location: Engelsbrand, Black Forest,
Contractor: Karl Köhler GmbH
Site Area: 9,800 sqm
Project Year: 2009
Photographs: Brigida Gonzalez, Germany

On a 92 are big estate on the northern rim of the Black Forest two residential houses and a pool came into being within a landscape garden. On the exposed topography located on a slight slope, different topologies are explored. The inhabited and uninhabited buildings, gardens of different sizes provide the ground for the quest of classical and unknown geometric topologies. The calm search for the „quinta essentia“ of an elegant classical form leads from the tetrahedron to the artificial landscape. A classical form which does not deny its revolutionary roots and formulates a poetic science.

© Brigida Gonzalez

Phase One > Existing House ‘Phanta Rhei’

Swiftly and with every shower
There’s change along the valley’s rim,
Alas, in the selfsame river
A second time you cannot swim.
Permanence in Change, by Johann Wolfgang Goethe (To Heraklit)

The existing house was reconstructed, extended and cut in two. By leading a run through its middle, the house was opened to the landscape.


Phase Two >> New Construction ‘Hexahedron’

„Matter desires form“
after Aristotle

The new construction is an exact and slightly raised hexahedron. The external leafs, made of exposed concrete, shape with regular form ties the raised cube. The rigorous structure on the outside with radical ramps, batters and graded terraces forms the starting point of the estate. The wild landscape of the Black Forest is artificially enclosed. Along the 250 m long axis of summer solstice the artificial landscape frees itself to a natural and wild habitat.

In the playful interior of the hexahedron low ceilings alternate with two-story high ceilings. Joiner’s work on a small personal scale creates retreats and dens in the continuous space which spans over five stories. For example, a reading desk within the library stacks, an integrated fireside bench, a recessed seating within the shower up to a meditative dark 8 Tatami mats room. Extensive joiner’s works were realized as an integral part throughout the building. Straight and coiled stairways lead from the basement to the upper observatory terrace in a smooth round choreography. On his path the visitor takes the passage along two-story high minimal windows and apertures as high as the building. Through these openings the spaces are exposed to bright daylight. Wood from a 200 years old oak cut down by a stroke of lightning, local sandstone from Maulbronn and other locally won materials were used for the interior works. Artificial and natural lightings stage interior and exterior spaces.

Energy concept: The high energy efficiency is accomplished by an impermeability concept, highly effective thermal insulation, and a geothermal energy source with a recuperator combined with a floor heating system. The windows have highly insulated double panes with warm edge, fiberglass frames and minimal aluminium frames. Passive solar energy is a part of the energy concept.

© Brigida Gonzalez

Phase Three >>> Philosophical Landscape Garden

“You seek life, and a godly fire
Gushes and gleams for you out of the earth,
As, with shuddering long, you
Hurl yourself down to the flames of the Etna.
Empedokles by Friedrich Hölderlin

masterplan model

The protected local flora develops from the wild habitat (bosco) to an artificial landscape (bosco). Water runs through the topography and maintains ponds and basins. The rising sun shines along the 250 m axis through the whole estate on the date of summer solstice. A variety of follies define places in the philosophical landscape:

A falsification swing, a romantic relict as a goose shed, a Tetrahedron fireplace, the Octrahedron, a teahouse made from Corten Steel, which defines a numerical microcosm in the wilderness.

Cite: "Topoi Engelsbrand / Office for Architecture Stocker" 26 Mar 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <>
  • abu

    “The new construction is an exact and slightly raised hexahedron”

    1. There is no such thing as an EXACT HEXAHEDRON. (I mean, have you ever seen one with 5.8 or 6.1 faces?)
    2. You probably mean a CUBE.
    3. Finally, a “slightly raised cube” is no longer a cube, but a CUBOID.

    And citing dead people doesn’t make mediocre architecture better.

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  • Marco

    The design is nice, but I don’t feel as a family home spirit, I mean it’s a museum to live. It is just my feel. But maybe, the client, the owner feels is different. La Ferrari, the Eames furniture, a catalogue complement……Look nice, look fine, look architecture, look ready to shoot. Sorry, not ready to live.


      agreed, nice i can’t afford it so to thumbs up

    • ilja phezam

      totally agree

  • SPUD

    the concrete work looks pretty shoddy in the first pick, almost like it was separating, which is surprising being built in Germany. if i were the client i would be pissed with how the concrete turned out. design looks ok.

  • squidly

    i wish that were a Deux Chevaux rather than a Ferrari.

  • ariana roberts

    simple, just the way i like it

  • sepehr edalati

    it’s nice………..