Dutch design practice NL Architects and Cologne-based STUDYO have designed a terraced affordable housing complex in Frankfurt. The project is part of the new Hilgenfeld development district in the Nidda valley area of Germany. Called Terrace House, the project was made to encourage shared responsibility while celebrating social gatherings and recreational space. The heart of the project is a communal garden and a terrace of jigsaw balconies.
Terrace House gently steps back each floor to embrace the street. At the same time terraces are created in a natural way oriented to the afternoon sun – light-flooded apartments with balconies on either side, open private balconies on the west and a collective covered gallery access to the east. The jig saw figure of the balconies creates a sense of privacy and shelter while at the same time enabling contact between the neighbors.
As the team states, "By introducing small nooks in front of each apartment the gallery becomes more than just infrastructure. A small niche comes into being that can be used for many things, for placing plants, parking a stroller or a bench to have your morning coffee, meet your neighbor, or place your shopping bag to look for your keys. A corner window enables a view along the street." In addition to the Laubengang as an extended usable area of the apartments, the main entry hall of the Terraces House furnishes another extra area for the residents to meet and greet. Inspired by Ernst May’s famous settlement Römerstadt, Terrace House grants its entire plot area to the residents to take care of as their common ground – tend the garden, plant and harvest fruit trees, to use it as a playground, or as a space to simply gather.
The program asked for a very large degree of variation of the housing units. Many different sizes are desired to cater for a wide range of future inhabitants for cross-generational and accessible housing. By introducing a building with varying bay widths different apartment types from small to extra large are organized next to each other forming a gradient that accommodates multiple lifestyles. The living area of the apartments is conceived as an open zone arranged from the entry in the east to the terrace in the west as a continuous space. The kitchens and bathrooms are organized around a service shaft in the center of each unit allowing the open and the private zone to be placed on either side of the bay to make alternation possible for each floor. The compact individual rooms include a generous living area, even for the smallest apartment types.
News via NL Architects