Villa S is dramatically located on a hillside above the historic town of Schriesheim, in Baden-Württemberg, in southwest Germany. From its elevated site, the building offers spectacular 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, originally built in 1295. Within this setting, the project presents itself as an elemental two-tier structure in white cast in-situ concrete.





















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Milled from a solid block of aluminium
Bespoke light fitting for Villa S
2014


Villa W
Frankfurt am Main
(Under Construction)



















The building’s monastic appearance sets it apart from the suburban character of its immediate neighbourhood. From the street, its north-facing front façade looks and feels impenetrable: the entranceway is recessed; the first floor, windowless; and its top floor fenestration, well set back. By contrast, the south elevation is completely glazed.

Surrounding properties are a mixture of two and three storey pitch roof housing. All have been carefully referenced in determining the villa’s scale and massing. And as a vertical counterpoint to its robust horizontality, the traditional chimney form has been elegantly integrated within the design.


















The building as a whole is configured as a cast in-situ concrete structure, with an infill wall composition comprising one course of high insulation clay blocks. At 450 mm thick, this comfortably delivers 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. The rooms are generous and well proportioned, with ceiling heights measuring 2.4m, 2.8m, 2.6m and 2.4m from the lower ground level upwards. All the concrete ceilings are left exposed in line with the villa’s elemental aesthetic.

The main social spaces, a living and dining area on the ground floor 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 framework allows for the insertion of a dramatic double height space (6m x 6m x 3.4m), so enabling these interiors to function as a one large, interconnected, two-tier cuboid.



















At the front of the house, a symmetrical spatial and fenestration plan organizes the two first-floor bedrooms with en-suite wetrooms. Each of these four spaces is fitted with a full height triple glazed unit (2.6m x 1.5m). These are well set into the side elevations, the depth of the window reveal providing a good indication of the building’s stature. (The glass specification is the same throughout the house.)

Externally, the villa’s tectonic credentials can also be seen in how its adjoining heavy duty retaining wall (5m x 35m x 0.3m), which is situated on its west side, forges a sunken courtyard allowing daylight to penetrate deep into the lower ground level via a series of sliding glazed units.

On the south elevation, three full height units are used for both the ground floor and first floor; and two for the top level. A substantial oblong glazed panel (6m x 2.8m), which defines the living area's west wall elevation, completes the fenestration to this part of the property. Within this light filled space, a flooring surface of coquina stone slabs, which is used throughout the ground floor, spills out on to the adjoining L-shape terrace, so bringing the outside in and vice versa.

































Building on this dynamic, the pavilion-like top floor configuration enables the house 'to step outside' its immediate environs. Full height glazing on three sides offers scenic views of the surrounding countryside, with the Taunus mountain range being visible to the north. 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. Here, a rectangular slot is detailed in the overhang above the recessed entranceway and a full-height sandblasted glass panel integrated within the entrance design. Together, these gently illuminate the hallway, the light becoming brighter as one moves through the villa and into the voluminous main living space.























Villa W,  Frankfurt am Main
High insulation clay blocks, cast in-situ concrete, glass and sandstone
Starts on site: November 2014
Modelmaker: Innovation Technologies GmbH,  Frankfurt am Main



Villa S
Schriesheim


















Villa S is dramatically located on a hillside above the historic town of Schriesheim, in southwest Germany. From its elevated site, the building offers spectacular 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, originally built in 1295. Within this setting, the project presents itself as an elemental two-tier structure in white cast in-situ concrete.


























The concrete has been well honed, the culmination of years of perfecting its use, perfecting the right mix, the quality of shuttering and the waxes applied, to ensure a smooth matt finish. Here it is used within a massing composition that generates a strong sense of place, rooting the villa in its culture and topography.

The lower level is articulated as a heavy concrete cuboid, embedded in the landscape. The walls are Romanesque in stature, which is the result of the double concrete wall system, the solidity and density of which is strikingly disseminated at the front of the house, courtesy of the deeply set glazing. Structurally, the internal wall is loadbearing, allowing the outer wall to function as formidable facing. With this block, the bedrooms and bathrooms are safely cocooned. Above, the pavilion like configuration engages with the landscape and the elements.

























The ground floor plan is made up of three interconnected but well-defined areas. The first of these, on the north side, incorporates the garage and the entranceway, as well as an external staircase leading down to the lower ground level and garden. The central area houses the living space, kitchen, and the building’s stairwell which provides access to the garage, as well as to a toilet and washroom facility. The villa’s terrace, on the south side, accessed via three elegant sliding glass panels, completes the floor plan. Brazilian slate tiling runs continuously throughout the interior and exterior, creating an impactful inside-outside space, measuring 135sqm.

The downstairs layout is larger, measuring 175sqm. This comprises the two south-facing bedrooms, with floor to ceiling glazing, both having en-suite bathrooms; a central area, which is capable of accommodating two additional well-sized rooms; and, towards the rear, a utility and washroom, a general storage space, and a dedicated room for the building’s electrics and heating system.The ceiling heights measure 2.6m for the lower level and 2.85m for the ground floor.

















From a volumetric standpoint, the interiors are generous and well proportioned, the main living area, in particular, delivering a real sense of grandeur, suffused as it with such quality of light and commanding as it does such expansive vistas, all of which is framed and contained by the roof’s bold horizontal form. This cantilevers 2.6m on the south side; while, on the north side, it manifests itself as a seemingly gravity defying open canopy that emphatically defines the entranceway, its large rectangular aperture (4.3m x 2.7m x 0.6m) delivering a constantly changing interplay of light and shadow.

























Throughout the scheme, the Meranti doors and window frames provide a strong aesthetic counterpoint to the white concrete, while elegantly complementing the slate flooring and the opaque matt glass panels that form part of the fenestration.

This holistic approach to detailing is also evident in the building's bespoke light fitting which delivers both internal and external coverage; works within the structural parameters of the concrete ceilings; and complements the architecture's exacting, pared-back aesthetic. Existing fittings were unable to meet these requirements, hence the development of the villa’s very own luminaire.


























The outer casing, which measures 12cm x 12cm x 8cm, is milled from a solid block of aluminium. Internally, the fitting comprises 49 1W LEDs mounted on a platina plate, combined with a highly polished stainless steel reflector and a specially satinized plexi-glass cover. The result is a low energy, high performance lamp that delivers an even spread of emitted light. Furthermore, the unit sits perfectly flush to the ceiling, so respecting the ascetic clarity of the cast in-situ concrete.


















The villa's asymmetric plan orchestrates the lighting layout, hence the spacing of the three lamps along the south-facing cantilever, the one offset from the middle aligning with the building’s long axis. Save for this subtle lighting detail, the south façade's symmetry robustly counterbalances the asymmetrical arrangement that organises the north elevation.































Within this dynamic, the heavy mass of the lower level generates a connection with the earth; and the lighter structure above, a connection with the sky. This is architecture exploring the communicative potential of construction. The result is a dwelling that looks and feels timeless, completely at home in its surroundings.



























Villa S, Schriesheim, 2014
White cast in-situ concrete, slate, wood and bespoke lighting

















































Villa S, White cast in-situ concrete, near Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Completion date: August 2014 



























Prospettive Zen
Marie Claire Maison Italia
Una geometria all’insegna della sottrazione, fatta di linee rigorose, 
per il padiglione format Ian Shaw Architekten a Siegen, in Germania