The 365 m2 site lies on a south-facing slope with a beautiful view over the city and Tübingen Castle. Our client wanted a sustainable family home that would provide living space for two adults and four children, built on a moderate budget. We suggested to employ energy efficient passive house technology (and solar gains) along with simple renewable materials and to prudently use the resources at hand. Therefore wood – because of its favorable impact on the indoor climate and its good energy balance – is the main material used for the entire structure and its interior surfaces. To limit costs, the raw industrial surface of the wood is given minimal finish treatment: the cross-layered, prefabricated wooden elements have merely been sanded down, treated with lye, and finished with soap to preserve their light character.
During the design process, we pursued a number of issues that include the question of what sustainability and eco-sufficiency really mean in regard to housing. The ultimate question is, what is good living space? What defines it and what does one really need? What answers can architecture itself contribute?
These issues guided us in our approach to the concept for the 138 m2 house, which has been efficiently designed for functionality, flexibility, and optimal use of space. While the individual rooms of 7.5 to 9 m2 are quite small, the house offers flexible-use spaces in the attic and an open ground floor that accommodates various activities with its 12 m2 balcony and 23 m2 entry court with an outdoor kitchen. Room-width glazing and inventive spatial and programmatic overlapping impart a sense of spaciousness, varied atmospheres, and manifold opportunities – all within a minimal area. Moreover, the house can be easily split into two living units of 81 and 57 m2 respectively, each with a separate entrance, should the family situation require the change. To do so, only one partition must be added on the first floor.
The building’s compact form and articulated roof shape reflect its inner functions and embody a contemporary equivalent to the neighboring gray tuff stone buildings from the 1920s. The house’s idiosyncratic kinked form and the swing of its hipped roof have two sources: a desire to maximize the spatial volume by closely following setback lines to fully exploit the buildable area on the small site, and a request by the uphill neighbors – defined as a condition of sale for the site – to maintain their unimpeded view of Tübingen Castle.
Text provided by the architect