Concrete alone may not be the most welcoming material, but its cool and impersonal properties can invite warm contrast. In this case, a boxy modern glass and concrete house exterior give way to a dynamic, open and livable home within. Designed by Braeuning Architekten, it’s called Haus am Eisberg, or “house on the iceberg.”
A Striking Minimalist Silhouette
It is probably best to understand this structure in terms of its sequence. So, moving from the outside toward the inside, a resident (or guest) follows the gravel driveway and parks under an unremarkable (minimalist) concrete overhang. On approach, a few windows and the overall shape of the main dwelling suggest there may be more than meets the eye, but mostly one is faced with more concrete, some tinted glass and metal roofing.
While ‘cold’ materials like steel and concrete can be found throughout the home, orange-and-red accents, brown tiles and other mitigating features and fixtures serve to provide a healthy degree of ‘warm’ contract. Also, many of the long interior spans (making such an open plan with thin floors possible structurally) were enabled by the use of these ‘cooler’ materials. While it features a ‘modern box’ palette of concrete, steel, glass, black and white, other elements and design strategies make it feel homey as well as contemporary.
A Large House with Just One Room
On the interior, everything shifts quite suddenly. Space and lines of sight open up drawing the eye across multiple floors, and out the back toward various framed views of natural landscapes beyond. A prominently-suspended fireplace conveys a sense of warmth, reinforced by the collection of logs suspended between floors like a work of abstract modern art.
Few places are truly closed off within the open plan of this concrete house, including the bedroom (separated from the main living room by a single suspended sheet) and sculptural bathtub (set underneath the main landing but still exposed to the main-floor common area). Nonetheless, with respect to an observer on the outside, these places remain private and separated – out of view from prying eyes.
More from the architects
“The client expressly did not want a series of self-contained rooms, but rather a well-thought-out sequence of open areas, with views across the half-storey offset levels and across the orchards into the Neckar valley to the city. The intensive cooperation between the client and the architect, the examination of modern living concepts and one’s own personal needs were in the foreground of the planning and subsequent implementation. By arranging the various living areas on split levels across the four individual levels, private and public spaces are separated without spatial restrictions. “
“From the narrow entrance area with indirect lighting, the spacious living levels open up with exciting material and color changes and clear lines. With a play of light and dark in the lighting and the different room heights and perspectives, exciting accents are set. In the material mix, the red and orange epoxy resin floors define individual living areas and form a strong contrast to the concrete gray of the flights of stairs and the outer walls.”
“Despite the building geometry, which at first glance appears futuristic, the house turns out to be a gable-roof house on closer inspection, just like the houses in the neighborhood. The fact that it looks completely different is largely due to the materials used. The exposed concrete gives it an independent, archaic, modern character. “