Villa S sits on a hillside above the historic town of Schriesheim, in Baden-Württemberg, in southwest Germany. From its elevated site the building offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside: to the south, the Black Forest; to the west, the Palatinate and the Rhine Valley; to the east, the Odenwald mountain range; and in the foreground, on a neighbouring hillside, the ruins of Strahlenburg Castle, built circa 1295. Within this setting, the project presents itself as an elemental two-tier structure in white cast in-situ concrete.

12 x12

Milled from a solid block of aluminium
Bespoke light fitting for Villa S

Villa W
Frankfurt am Main
(Under Construction)

Villa W’s monastic appearance sets it apart from its immediate suburban neighbours. The building’s front façade looks and feels impenetrable: the entranceway is recessed; the first floor, windowless; and the fenestration to the second floor, well set back. By contrast, the rear elevation is fully glazed.

Structurally, the building comprises a cast in-situ concrete frame with an infill wall composition of high insulation clay blocks. At 450 mm thick, these comfortably deliver the required U-values. Both plaster and render finishes are mineral based to ensure excellent wall breathability.

Internally, the four floors provide 640 sq metres of living space. Floor to ceiling heights are generous, measuring 2.4m, 2.8m, 2.6m and 2.4m from the lower ground level to the second floor respectively. And in line with the villa's elemental aesthetic, all the concrete ceilings are left exposed.

The main social spaces, which comprise a L-shaped living and dining area on the ground floor (one of a number of 'L-shaped' configurations within the project) and a gallery/study on the first floor, are located to the rear, orientated towards the garden via the fully glazed south facing elevation. Here the building's substantial structural framework allows for the insertion of a dramatic double height space (6m x 6m x 3.4m) which articulates these rooms as one large, interconnected, light-filled interior.

At the front of the house, a symmetrical spatial and fenestration plan organises two first-floor bedrooms with en-suite wet rooms. Here, and throughout the scheme, deeply set windows give the building a real sense of depth and stature.

This depth and stature is also very much evident in the sizeable, sunken, trapezoidal-shaped courtyard that abuts the property on its west elevation. Defined by two hefty concrete retaining walls, this atmospheric void allows daylight to penetrate deep into the lower ground level via the full-height L-shaped glazing arrangement. While at the rear of the villa, the comprehensive fenestration - three full height glazing units for both the ground floor and first floor, and two for the top floor - exploits the building's south-facing aspect. In addition, generous glazing on the west elevation, to both the ground floor and top floor, ensure an ample supply of late afternoon/early evening sunlight.

Inside the villa, white walls and a coquina stone slab flooring surface enhance the light-filled interiors, with the stone flooring extending out onto the adjoining L-shaped terrace, so bringing the outdoors in and vice versa.

The inside-outside dynamic continues on the top floor; full height glazing on three sides offers scenic views of the surrounding countryside, including the Taunus mountain range to the north, while diffused light from the skylight above the stairwell creates a sense of expectation as one ascends, which, on fine days, is heightened by diagonal rays of light via the south-west glazing.

This delicate use of light is equally on show at the front of the house, courtesy of a simple rectangular slot detailed in the overhang above the recessed entranceway together with a full-height sandblasted glass screen integrated within the front door design. These gently illuminate the hallway, so setting the scene for the villa's voluminous, south-facing main living area with its abundance of natural light.

Villa W,  Frankfurt am Main
High insulation clay blocks, cast in-situ concrete, glass and sandstone
Completion: autumn 2016
Modelmaker: Innovation Technologies GmbH,  Frankfurt am Main