Architect: Matthias Benz architecture & design
Location: Gerzen (Niederbayern), Germany
Site Surface: 2076 sqm
Built-up Surface: 304 sqm
Start time: 2006
Finish time: 2008
Interiors: Josef Eibl GmbH
Photographs: Thomas Benz; Rathschek Schiefer
Anyone who has visited a German city’s peripheral area knows what we mean when we refer to a “typical German home.” They are clear-colored houses, with pitched roofs and PVC windows, existing in all imaginable sizes and proportions. Together with a church and train station they form the “typical German peripheral town.”
It was in one of these town, located at the outskirts of Munich, that a family formed by a married couple and their daughter stated the objectives for their home; that is, to build and inhabit a house, that would sensibly respect tradition, but at the same time provide an individual and contemporary style.
Their home would have to replace the remains of a previous farm, on a 2000-sq.m.-site defined by a gentle hill slope and an excellent view over the town. The strict urban regulations allowing only pitched-roof buildings challenged the client’s desire for individuality. In addition, in order to avoid the rejection from the neighbors, it was important to abstain from anything that could alter the panoramic view over the valley they already enjoyed. The project was approached as an opportunity to re-interpret the traditional architectural language aiming at a goal that besides being innovative and functional would provide new building terms through recyclable materials and the use of contemporary energy solutions.
A simple geometry was adopted for the house, combining two solid volumes enabling not only to maintain but improve the neighboring homes view over the valley.
White is the companion for the peace of the sleeping and resting areas. The volume containing the spaces to be shared by the family was characterized through slate-stone facades and roof. Working with Rathscheck Schiefer, a special emphasis was placed on developing the capabilities to build with slate stone, stressing the solution of corner details. Through the integration of the pitched roof required by city planning regulations plus the vertical shifting needed to adapt to the hillside, a volume evoking a modern monolith, covered by an ancient over 400-million-year material, whose silky glitter attains the perfect environmental integration, was obtained.
The use of recyclable materials and inclusion of energy saving concepts are fully integrated to this work. A wood structure with flax insulation, cellulose, and wood-fiber board was the option selected to obtain a thermal conductivity coefficient of 0.14W/m²K as average value for all the facades. A heating pump with five 35-meter-depth geothermal probes benefits from the earth-generated/stored heat for heating purposes. The great windows placed at the south façade allow the maximum use of natural light, while the 4-meter-hight obtained through vertical shifting to adapt to ground displacement takes advantage of the currents ascending the slope to ventilate interiors in summer.
The total energy consumption of this home is 65% under the values permitted by German Energy Norms (ENEV). This achievement allowed the house to be included into a “sustainable architecture” tour organized by Bavaria’s Chamber of Architecture on 2009. To round off the ecological concept used, a second phase will be approached adding photovoltaic panels and rain water collectors.