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Villa S

Schriesheim, Germany
1 of 12

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, built circa 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 cuboid - an extension of the earth, almost. The walls are Romanesque in stature, which is the result of a 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, bedrooms and bathrooms are safely cocooned. Above, the pavilion like configuration engages with the landscape and the elements.

From a volumetric standpoint, the main living area takes centre stage, its spatial grandeur amplified by the commanding vistas that its location commands. These are framed and contained by a continuous inside-outside flooring surface of Brazilian slate tiles and the roof's south-facing 2.6m cantilever. On the north side of the building, an equally bold tectonic display emphatically defines the entranceway, with a seemingly gravity defying open canopy delivering a dynamic interplay of light and shadow.

Villa S has its own bespoke light fitting, which provides 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 couldn't meet these requirements, hence the project developing its own luminaire.

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graemedrussell, January 19th, 2022
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