Three Family Country House

We have designed a series of houses in Kientiz, Germany, facing the Oder river and Poland. It is a house that is both private and public.

Georg Diez and his family came to us with the desire to live in the country among friends. He had no site, no program but only a feeling about a community. He was not even specific about the community members. Surely, at the core was his wife and his two rather cute children. Beyond that he imagined guests and more than guests, people who live with him. Together we concluded that the family needed to begin a project big enough for at least two families but conceive and paid for by 3 or 4.

This process began with several schemes that allow for change and growth over years and between seasons.
Various members of the families can constantly change and negotiate the relationships between each other.



Around existing barn
We create one large space for everyone around a ‘secret’ garden, which was formerly an existing little barn on the site. This leaves an exterior old brick wall in the house as an interior wall. This garden also divides the house allowing it to become one continuous space with different areas and different degrees of privacy. People live on the edges and are together in the center.

House with a large winter garden and several interior gardens
We use the two existing ruins as ‘secret’ gardens. In the two areas ‘ left over’ we put a small new house raised up on piloti to reach the view and a large winter garden. In this scheme you could use the raised up house as a cozy place in the winter, the whole site in the summer and the winter garden in the fall and spring.
In this scheme there are quite a few different kinds of spaces but in fact very little is constructed.

Collection of roofs
We create a number of permanent roofs scattered around the site. Under the roofs towards the middle of the site we build the core of the house, relatively small and casually closed spaces with glass or polycarbonate.
This part of the house would be used all year round. During warmer seasons everyone can expand into the space under the other roofs. There you on can have guest rooms, kids rooms, a study or even a new function.
The house expands and contracts seasonally and can also change over the years.
You can change how you use the house over the course of its / your life.
You could for example have kids close by for the next few years and let them occupy rather different parts of the site as they enter their teenage years. Likewise, the investment can be staggered adding more roofs and or more enclosures under said roofs over time.
The design offers a base and lets the occupation unfold. The intention is that the roofs and the floors are concrete (forever.) and the enclosures are flexible, sometimes it is just a tent or a screened porch.

Raised garden scheme
As the site is at the edge of Germany on the Oder river with the possibility for a view to Poland we propose a raised garden on the level of the dike. Above this new plane would be a garden and the private spaces of the house arranged as individual houses. Below the plane we would propose the public spaces of the house; Kitchen, dinning living etc… Each private space would be accessed from its own stair or ladder and could be reached by going outside on the second level garden. This scheme has the advantage that all of the private spaces have views and the public space though large could remain quite intimate.

Several tiny towers with a central living space
The scheme creates a number of three story towers. Each of these towers can function as its own private house for one or two. Each of the three rooms are the same size, one would be a bathroom (*and more) and the other two could be anything. At the core of the site would be a modest kitchen, dining, living and general gathering place. The scheme allows for flexibility in terms of the relationships inside the community. Everyone can be quite private at the top of one of the towers or one can be quite public on the ground floor of each tower. (We propose that the w.c. is part of the middle floor.) When you are on the ground in the ‘public’ of your family you are also in the more intimate part of the site beneath the dike. When you go up to the more ‘private’ space you are much more exposed and open to the world around you.

One tower with open floor plates
We create a single tower or armature for living and all things. We make the structure clear and exposed, a mix of concrete and steel. Each floor would be a terrace with a house on it or the possibility of a house on it. These houses could be quite different. The order from ground to top as: living, totally open, kitchen/dining, kids floor, someone else’s floor, and a bedroom with a reading room. ‘A’rchitecure is made by the structure and the actual spaces are more casually made and flexible. In this scheme you could have people ‘camp’ out on one of the terraces.
We would attempt to get planning permission by claiming some solidarity with older industrial structures in the area.

Giant tent / winter garden house
The scheme is a very large semi conditioned space, covering the entire site. This is the biggest scheme but also the smallest. It allows for everyone together on nice days. We could even have a lecture in there.
The idea here would be that in the fall and spring you have the space closed and that it would be warmer than outside. In the winter you would move into much smaller ‘cabins’ within the larger space. In the summer you would open it up to get the air circulating.
Everyone is in the same space. Privacy comes simply from distance.
It is like being outside because its so big that you don’t feel the edges of this vinyl tent.