Executive ArchitectHubert Wewer
Estructural engineeringIngenieurgemeinschaft Bröckling Vullhorst GmbH
The design for a single-family house at the edge of a small town in the western part of Germany combines vernacular and contemporary formal language. We examined how specific regional form could be further developed with the help of digital planning tools in the sense of a contemporary "parametric regionalism”. Here, the transformative capabilities of parametric software helped to estrange site-specific gestalt towards an architecture that is both common and uncommon to its context.
The plan of House H refers to the aisled barns that are typical to the region. Their nave-and-aisle-layout often show a sort of transept (a so-called “flett” containing the central fire place), that relates the house’s basic geometry closely to a nine square grid.
We have furthered this grid with a parametric model, whose geometric elasticity helped to, cover required functions, answer building legislation, optimize structural requirements, as well as balance spatial and formal intentions. On the basis of this geometric model and controlled via a pivotal point in the centre of the plan, parts of the house can be separated and rotated apart.
The transformation of the plan then also instigates the transformation of the saddle roof into a relatively complex roof landscape. While the well-known shapes of the four gables remain undisturbed, the “tweening” of the roof-shapes results in curved and folded surfaces that obscure the clarity of a gabled roof.
House H is divided into two fundamentally different zones: the wings contain areas for seclusion, such as the intimate living room, the kitchen-cum-living room, the library, as well as the family’s bedrooms upstairs. The two-storey central space performs as the communicative centre of the house where a large dining table and a sequence of seating steps allow for formal and informal gatherings.
As fair-faced brick-facades are typical to the region House H also received a brick-façade, in this case, however, coated with a thin layer of white cement-mortar.
The roof is covered by a layer of cedar-wood lamellas, that, as a refined version of the underlying roof-framework, translates the logic of the roof’s transformational geometry. Due to the roofs form the slats are different in length and point-held with especially developed joints to float above the roof’s rainproof layer.
In contrast to the deliberately textured exterior surfaces, the interior surfaces are kept widely smooth. Polished white plaster walls and ceilings contrast the relatively large sized oak boards on the floors. The canopy-like ceiling with its softly curved surfaces appears lightweight and like a textile membrane when it receives daylight through the main skylight.
House H has been designed beyond the requirements of the latest German energy saving regulation (EnEV). Thus, next to the application of durable materials all exterior wall and roof surfaces contain up to 20cm thick layers of thermal insulation. All windows are at least double-glazed. A brine-to-water heat pump provides the house’s heating and warm water-supply with energy.