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Ian Shaw unveils ‘monolithic' Frankfurt villa proposals

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Manchester-born, German-based architect Ian Shaw has revealed plans for this 640m² ‘monolithic white’ villa in the suburb of Frankfurt am MainI

Ian Shaw Architekten, which has just opened an office in London, says the three-storey home will feature 450mm thick external walls made from clay blocks.

The scheme is expected to start on site in September this year and complete in May 2014.


The architect’s view

From the street the villa will appear impenetrable, its windowless façade and recessed entranceway delineating a clear demarcation between the public and private realms. Surrounding properties are a mixture of two and three storey pitch roof housing. All have been carefully referenced in determining the project’s scale, mass and proportions. A series of setbacks on floors one and two allude to the timeless ziggurat form. And as way of a vertical counterpoint to the building’s strong horizontal accent, the traditional chimney has been reworked as an elegant planar column.

Villa W is about generating presence, its robust orthogonality and monochrome aesthetic grounding the building in its location. At just under 0.5m thick the external walls will be Romanesque in stature. This is architecture communicating through its constructional ontology the importance of place and dwelling.

The house will provide 640m² of living space over four levels. The rectangular floor arrangement is Palladian in spirit, abstracted in varying degrees on each of the floors. Ceiling heights are generous, from the lower ground level to the second floor: 2.4m, 2.8m, 2.6m and 2.4m respectively. These dimensions will deliver a series of well-proportioned rooms. On the ground floor the living and dinning area will impress with its volumetric clarity, the building’s inverted U frame design generating a 10m column free span that will provide uninterrupted views of the garden. The same floor type, coquina stone slabs, for the inside outside spaces will deliver coherence to the whole.

From a tectonic standpoint the volumetric design is made even more challenging by the insertion of a double height space (3.4m x 6m x 6m). This will seamlessly connect the ground floor and first floor, as well as disseminate the weight and structure of the architecture, and, just as importantly, facilitate the flow of natural light throughout the social areas, these all being orientated towards the villa’s huge expanse of glazing on its south facing elevation. The ground floor and first floor will each be fitted with three large triple pane, bespoke units: 3.5m x 2.8m, 3m x 2.8m and 3.5m x 2.8m; and for the second floor, two units measuring 3.5 x 2.2 and 3.8 x 2.4. In addition, the building’s structural rigour will enable extensive glazing to the villa’s side (west) elevation on the ground level.

The scheme’s second floor, L shaped composition with full height glazing on three sides will deliver impressive views of the Tanus mountain range. A dramatic skylight situated above the staircase that leads to the top level will provide a generous source of diffused north light. This soft, even illumination will create a sense of expectation as one ascends the stairs, which, on cloudless days, will be heightened by diagonal rays of sunlight from the pavilion’s south west glazing. The use of light as a building element defining space and animating form is central to the project, meticulously informing every glazed insertion, including an additional north facing skylight above the main entrance way. This will gently illuminate the hallway, thus allowing the abundance of light from the south facing elevation to draw one through and into the hearth of the home.

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