Situated in a leafy suburb in the south-west of Berlin, this house is organised around a south-facing courtyard overlooking a large garden. Although designed to reveal a distinct sequence of rooms and to forge a clear relationship between inside and outside space, it was the building’s material that became the foremost determining element in its architecture. Enveloped entirely in a brick skin, the house gains a physical solidity reminiscent of the early Modernist houses of Erich Mendelsohn and Mies van der Rohe, especially the latter’s three projects of the late 1920s: Wolf, Esters and Lange. The irregularities of the textured, hand-made brick finish contrast with the smoothness and consistency of the steel-framed glazing.
From the street the house appears as a combination of opaque layers, characterised by both the brickwork’s imposing physical presence and its use within abstract and formal compositions. As a result of the resolutely limited palette of materials, the building presents itself as a completely interlocked composition of material and form, internal and external space, and vertical and horizontal dimension, creating a strong interplay between abstract space and domestic programme.
With a courtyard at its centre, the plan of the house builds up a series of simple internal spaces with each room carefully considered in its sequence and composition. Spaces within the house enjoy various ceiling heights – something that is revealed in the articulation of the building’s exterior, where the game between physical restraint and abstract freedom is played out. Thus it is these simple internal spaces with both their abstract and physical qualities that serve to determine the internal hierarchy of the building rather than allowing it to be defined by the functional dictates of each room.