Haus K is located in in the town of Dreieich-Götzenhain, in the vicinity of Frankfurt am Main, Germany, in a quite typical suburban housing settlement that had been developed during the 1960s. The neighbourhood still shows the architectural reverberations of the increasingly wealthy, yet rather conservative and homogeneous suburban society during the so-called “Wirtschaftswunder” of post-war Germany. However, today this aesthetic consensus has been replaced by an entirely individualist approach towards the aesthetics of one’s own house that manifests itself in an eclectic collage of styles.
At first glance, Haus K adapts to this context with a similarly individualist approach and seemingly self-contained architectural gestures. But despite of its modernist aesthetics several contextual influences are translated into the building’s shape and organisation: The house is located at a street-corner where it marks the transitions between the suburban residential neighbourhood on the one side, and small commercial areas and farmland on the other. At its western side, it continues the rhythm of the rather low residential units, while it changes appearance towards its eastern perimeter in order to react properly to a row of larger neighbouring buildings. Here, it articulates a concise wall-like façade that demarcates the border between the housing settlement and the adjacent farmland.
Typologically Haus K formulates a clear reference to the L- and U-shaped bungalows that originally characterized the neighbourhood: the L-shaped ground floor frames the terrace and establishes multiple relations between the interior of the house and the garden. At the pivot of this ‘L’ a complex interplay of structural beams and walls opens the building’s volume to interlock both, interior and exterior spaces. The southern tip of the ‘L’ presents itself as a, wide open, and frameless façade that, too, extends the living room visually into the garden.
Above ground floor, the two wings of the house’s first floor embrace both interior as well as exterior spaces and form a comparably large void that reaches from the entrance at the north to the terrace at the southern side. Additional exterior spaces such as a balcony in front of the children’s room and a framed roof-terrace in front of the master unit create further connections between house and garden.
The material concept of Haus K echoes the client’s wish for a decidedly modernist house: the building’s sharply cut geometry is fostered by the fine grain of the plaster facade as well as by an intentional lack of visible details, such as a clad parapet or windowsills that would normally protect the façade from rainwater. Thus, in order to guarantee a moisture proof coat while maintaining a pure form, the thermal insulation composite system had to be partly reinforced with a layer of liquid seal as well as with slender plastic rails that care for a watertight façade and the controlled drainage of rainwater.
Analog to the exterior, the interior shows rather minimalist aesthetics, too. At ground floor, white plaster walls and a seamless cement floor dominate the interior and strengthen the interplay of surfaces and volumes. In addition, merely functional details such as, curtain rails, skirting, or lighting are embedded or hidden. The upper floor, that contains the master unit and the children’s rooms, shows a more cosy choice of materials with its dark smoked oak floor and tangible details.
Haus K has been designed in response to German laws on energy efficiency: the closed northern façade protects minimizes thermal loss, while the southern façade’s extensive glazing helps to gain solar energy. Up to 20 centimetre thick insulation, covering exterior wall and roof surfaces, as well as double-glazed windows reduce thermal loss during wintertime. Heat-recovery ventilation increases comfort and minimizes thermal loss through window-ventilation.