This complex project by architects from L3P Architekten ETH FH SIA AG was built on a steep plot of land so narrow that it was originally considered to be a non-buildable site. With under 900 square feet available to built upon, these designers had to find a solution that went beyond the classic residential home with thick exterior walls, conventional road access, and driving areas. In the process, they've created a vertically oriented home that offers an ascension of rooms at various heights, many of them cantilevered in order to expand the floor space of the home without altering the base site. Structural, functional, and aesthetic are all combined into one in this construction, with every surface and shape performing multiple feats at once.
Be prepared to be surprised at every twist and turn in this wild, creative home!
The façade consists of 58 different window elements, and no format is the same. With the glossy windows measuring more than twice the area as the floor, the structure offers a rare sense of upward energy, a sense that the home grows bigger and stronger the farther you get from the ground.
Access to the building is via the garage. Although the entry point is hidden underneath the home, the entrance area opens immediately into a spacious foyer 20 feet in height. Also attached to this entrance are a cellar and the house utilities.
The dwelling is elementally reduced to a naked concrete rough building, supplemented by carpentry and enveloped by the glass mantle that gives the home a surreal sense of invisibility, depending on where you stand. This energetic, geometric structure contrasts sharply with the landscaped meadows, hedges and fruit trees that dot the property. However, although the character of the building materials are modern and industrial, the structure itself is integrated seamlessly into the design of the landscape. The house appears to sit within precise cuts in the terrain, as do the concrete stepping stones that decorate an otherwise untended slope. In other words, while some homes live in harmony with nature by blending into it, this home connects to nature by intensifying it; by providing a stark, crisp contrast to the wild and rugged character of the site.
The architects who worked on this project explain that the structure of the home is like that of a cluster of grapes – there are no static supports hidden in the windows or cantilevered rooms. Instead, the rooms grow out of a central wall that offers support for the ceiling and rooms, like at tree trunk supporting the limbs and canopy. This supporting wall is anchored in the foundation of the ground floor, which acts as the roots of the tree. In this way, the rooms of the home are like the grapes suspended from a vine.
The sculptural steel and black colored concrete first seen outside the home are omnipresent: the walls, ceilings, floors and even the bookshelves are part of the load-bearing structure, bringing a heavy dose of industrialism to the interiors. Following a reductionist line of thought, the architects have left out any subfloors, floor coverings, plaster work, or painting work that often cover the structural elements of a building. This results in the blocky, raw, and steely space that you see in this picture – however, the designers have obviously added a highly unusual colourful twist!
The last colour you'd expect to see in an edgy industrial interior, this pink kitchen is certainly one-of-a-kind! What could be an overwhelming bubble gum shade in any other house becomes a welcome burst of energy in this otherwise heavy, cool space.
Stairs are an ever-present feature in this vertically arranged home that seems to move, shift, open, and close as you ascend through its levels. Even the stairway decor seems to reflect this wild energy that propels you up and down through the home, with a colourful arrangement of picture frames reflecting the ascending stacked arrangement of the rooms.
The cantilevered outcrops in this home's design do so much more than expand the floor plan by a few feet – this living room enjoys a positively majestic panorama, floating in space above the treetops with fresh air surrounding the three transparent sides of the room.
In a home with so many twists and turns, private spaces are created effortlessly (or seemingly so), without the use of thick walls and doors. This bathroom sink and shower have been placed alongside a thin steel wall that serves to divide the bedroom and living room, and as you can see, the wall is no thicker than your finger. Since the main support wall lies at the core of the home, all of the other dividing walls are designed to be as thin – as space-saving – as possible.
By now, you've learned to expect reductionism at the turn of every corner – this bedroom and bathroom eliminate the need for superfluous walls, in a friendly tub and bed arrangement that not only provide the rare luxury of a scenic bath, but also the luxury of stepping out of the tub onto a plush carpet.
Love the bed-bath combo? Check out this ideabook: 6 Creative Ways to Join your Bedroom and Bathroom
In a puzzling array of reflective surfaces and odd angles, this view from the stairs seems to offer a perspective into another dimension! Every last inch of sunlit space has been carefully thought out in this twisting staircase design, which not only provides a spacious entrance (a person enters the home through the stairs seen coming from the garage on the lower floor), but also establishes a contemplative sitting room in a little sunny nook all its own.