With two distinct volumes visually separating the public and private spaces, the Studio House in Wenzenbach, Germany is interesting to observe from a variety of standpoints. The residence was developed by German architectural firm fabi architekten bda and was cleverly adapted to an uneven terrain. Partially hidden from the street, the house seems to follow the topography of the hillside, descending in spectacular modern lines.
The aim was to create “a homelike an archetype. As a prelude to the castle “Schönberg” from the 12th century at the Wehrgraben, on the site of a former guard house. The house consists of two building volumes: one homogeneous, black saddle roof building lying turned and cantilevered on a white flat roof box”. The upper volume accommodates the social area, a generously-sized interior for working, thinking, talking, eating, celebrating, relaxing. Below is where the bedrooms are located, offering the lucky inhabitants extensive forest views.
What is new and exciting now can quickly begin to look tired and out of fashion, so the best buildings don’t just consider what will be interesting to look at now, but also how it might look to people in five, fifty or even a hundred years’ time. 2013’s hotly contested RIBA Stirling Prize went to Witherford Watson Mann Architects for their work on Astley Castle, Warwickshire. In what RIBA Past President Stephen Hodder has described as an extreme retrofit, the project essentially saw a new building inserted subtly into the heart of the old, with a new, two storey residence now hidden within the sandstone walls of the ruins of this medieval castle, to be used as a holiday home for up to eight guests
Energy during the construction process was saved by using FSC-certified glulam timber instead of steel to create the building’s distinctive wavy roof, while the store’s external walls use hemclad, a highly innovative insulator made from hemp, which, like all plants, absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere as it grows. An 80,000 litre water tank below ground provides water for the store’s toilets and waters the site’s green wall’, which provides natural insulation, acts as an all-natural pollution filter near the car park, and helps to encourage biodiversity. The result is a building that uses a fraction of the energy of structures of a similar size, and is still very popular with local shoppers.