Extensive damage to houses in East Germany after the flood disaster of June 2013 left thousands of residents with no other option than to demolish and rebuild their homes. The house we are touring today, designed by Studio Architecture Bernd Meier, is a remarkable example of such a re-build.
The original apartment building in Passau suffered severe structural damage. The 350 acre lot saw a contemporary, flood-safe, and energy-efficient replacement arise. Not only was it implemented within a year, but it was also achieved with a mere 310,000 euro budget. Impossible, you say? We thought so too, but seeing is believing…
This design is simple and oh-so-minimal, achingly so. A rectangular structure is capped with a gable roof. Square openings, of varying sizes, perforate the structure to let light in. The pragmatic design sees the use of water-proof concrete at the base of the building and aluminium and zinc cladding elsewhere.
A permanent opening in the roof above the central circulation stairwell ensures its fire safety and facilitates a temporal experience of the varying weather conditions.
The concrete used around the base of the building is carried up this street facade, creating a very minimal and masculine street presence. Minimalism, which arose from Japanese culture in the fifteenth century, took root in the western art world post WW2.
The aesthetic principles of wabi-sabi, which was at the heart of Japanese minimalist design, reflect a deeper world view centered on an acceptance of transience and imperfection. It is a concept that derives from Buddist teaching and is thought to nurture authenticity through the acknowledgement of three things; nothing lasts, nothing is finished and nothing is perfect. The roughness and irregularity of the cast concrete, the simplicity, the austerity, are all characteristic of the principal of wabi-sabi.
The interior is no exception to this open embrace of imperfection and irregularity. The asperity, or rough and irregular finish, of the concrete floor and timber linings has a very exposed and honest appeal.
The structure is made from solid wood, as are many of the interior wall and ceiling linings; this creates very comfortable living environments, in addition to being easy to economical to manufacture. A controlled ventilation system combined with the applied passive solar principals ensures low energy costs.
Throughout the living areas, all of the wood surfaces are left exposed and unprocessed. Likewise, the flooring leaves bare the visible screed surfaces of the raw concrete that are created by a multi-washed sand.
Light enters the spaces via the square openings in the walls, as well as through the numerous skylights. The result is a light and airy interior that is well connected to the natural world, existing beyond the confines of its four exterior walls.
Here, we can appreciate this to a greater extent. The varying size of the window openings allows for the creation of very different environments and atmospheres. While the nook at the end of the space, with it's small opening, has a very cozy appeal; the greater space achieves a feeling of expansiveness thanks to the generous glazed opening.
For more living space inspiration, take a look though these examples—you're sure to find something that suits your tastes!
Speaking of cozy nooks—how wonderful is this attic room! The unusual angles formed at the junctions of the walls and roof creates an unusual space. The skylight lets light in and connects the space to the sky. What a wonderful retreat, high above the goings-on of everyday life.
If you enjoyed your tour through this remarkable design, you may also like to take a look at another minimal home in a completely different context; An Impressive Home with a Dramatic Cantilever is sure to impress!