Herzog & de Meuron Basel Ltd.
4056 Basel, Switzerland
The plot is situated in a suburb of Stuttgart next to a park with tall, ancient oak trees. Most of the buildings in the neighbourhood are one or two stories high with gable or hip roofs, typical of the post-war architecture in so many suburbs of central Europe.
The client wanted a house with two apartments for his family and a floor of offices for the administration of his extensive collection of contemporary art. These needs are all united under one roof without being individually visible from the outside. The house has a unified, homogeneous form, like a kind of prototype. With its traditional roof and simple cubic shape it fits seamlessly into the typology of the neighbourhood. In addition, the wooden cladding conveys a pleasant mood, an atmosphere of living in the familiar world of the countryside.
At the same time this existing image is disrupted and called into question: the new house shows no juncture between facade and roof; and no division is made between the area of the roof and the exterior walls. The interior walls of the stairwell are also constructed of the same uniformly heavy beams. Daylight penetrates dimly through the cracks between the oak ties. From outside, the house looks heavy and compact, as if it had been carved out of one solid wooden block, like a model or a medieval shrine. The longer one looks at it, the more it deviates in scale and appearance from the neighbouring houses. In fact, it seems closer in spirit to the oak forest on the other side of the street – to the great archaic trees from another world.
Herzog & de Meuron, 1996
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