E20 House by Steimle Architekten
The striking residence, a monolith designed of insulating concrete is located on a quiet street with little traffic in the village of Pliezhausen, a good 30 km south of Stuttgart, Germany.
Facing the street, the new building presents only a few openings cut deeply into the solid concrete shell. While the crystal-shaped house still relates to the existing built context due to its parallel elongated sides, it contrasts distinctly with the neighboring buildings by virtue of the tapered ends formed by its shorter sides. It is this oblique arrangement of the facades that enables the building to open out to the surrounding outdoor spaces and to offer its inhabitants unexpectedly expansive views in the distance. A conventional gable roof and the gently rising terrain reinforce the angular, sculptural effect of the house, which is designed on a hexagonal ground plan.
Upon entering the house through its entrance cut deep into the concrete mass, you first reach the garden room. From here, a single-flight stair leads up to the residential level. The quite narrow and high entrance area morphs into a space that opens upward but is clearly bounded by the multiple folds of the roof form: as you move through the house, constriction and expansion, enclosure and openness enter into an exciting, constantly shifting dialogue. The window openings set horizontally into the 50 cm thick concrete shell create a framed view of the surrounding, gently undulating landscape.
All the rooms of the house correlate with its crystalline form: the trapezoidal layout of the walls yields a diversity of new spatial relationships that have a special character induced by the upward-sloping ceiling surfaces. The individual rooms for the children and the parents lie directly adjacent to the living space and, as opposing parallelograms, divide the open floor plan into zones for the kitchen and the dining area. The result is a sensuous, atmospherically dense place of dwelling.
In its minimalism and robustness, the insulating concrete is a monochrome, massive shell that defines the essence of the house both inside and outside. Outside, thanks to the rough-sawn wooden board formwork, the concrete has the appearance of a solid, lively textured, and protective enclosure. Inside, the folded concrete surfaces are smooth by design and contrast with the warm hues of the solid oak fixtures.
Photography courtesy of Steimle Architekten