House in Hamburg

The dream of a house in the country is often constrained by the many building regulations that exist. On this site in the north-east of Hamburg, for example, a single-storey development was stipulated, and the rules governing the space between buildings would have meant a very small living area. A solution was found by applying a subtle design strategem. The architects sank the house and the terrace into the ground to a depth of half a storey, so that from the outside, the two-floor building appears to be lower than it really is. To avoid any sense of living in cramped basement conditions, the white cubic volume seems to float above the garden over a continuous strip of fenestration. The timber structure is borne by steel columns cast into the in-situ concrete base tank. Constructed with laminated softwood cross-boarded sheeting, the facades, floors and walls form an overall structural grid. The sheets were prefabricated as full-size elements and are lined with Douglas fir externally. Although a consistent eaves height was to be maintained, the upper-floor ancillary spaces were to be lower than the bedroom and children’s room. This resulted in different ceiling levels and a three-dimensional effect in the continuous space on the lower floor. The two storeys are linked by a central atrium. The white acrylic-paint finish to the walls and ceilings leaves the wood grain visible, an effect that was taken up by the imprint of the boarded formwork in the concrete tank.
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