House by unit a
She explains that in Germany, "... changes of season are clear and visible. Our design allows the inhabitants to live closer to the natural surroundings. The client's brief included a request for spaces that are peaceful and have a soothing atmosphere to counterbalance the hectic work pace of the advertising agency."
In January 2006, the Architecture Board of Baden-Württemberg recognized the Fleischmann House for its simple cubic form. Architects, planners, government officials, and leaders of cultural institutions on this board select buildings they feel promote the quality of architecture in their region. The Fleischmann House won a regional award for exceptional architecture.
German Home, Japanese Influence
The Fleischmann House mimics some of the materials typically found in a traditional Japanese architecture. In fact, there is a limited palette of materials: natural stone, concrete, metal paneling, and glass.
Traditional Japanese culture is also visible in the arrangement of elements. Kuwayama explains: "A strict grid determines the positioning of walls and storage areas; built-in storage units result in limiting furniture pieces; and there is an uninterrupted continuation of interior and exterior garden space."
The construction of this open plan was dominated by what she calls rigid adherence to a set of rules to yield the desired simplicity. The plan follows a 28 by 28-inch (70 by 70-centimeter) grid, an ordering system that can be seen in the natural stone flooring, the configuration of the built-in closets, the exterior metal paneling, and the glazed facade.
The structure of the building is found in the "E" form of the two-story concrete north wall and in the steel beams that span from that wall to the square steel columns on the south side.
The flooring is constant throughout the house. Slate floor tiles are found in every area, from the bathroom to the living room, the bedroom, the terrace, and even the stairs. "All materials and construction elements follow the strict base grid," Kuwayama says. "These constants give an impression of simpleness which is only attained through extreme discipline."
Passive Energy Design
The architect chose natural stone tiles in part to serve the passive solar design scheme. The solar energy that enters the south-facing windows falls on and is absorbed by the thermally massive walls and floors. Unlike active solar heating, which typically requires complex and costly equipment to collect and disburse the energy, passive techniques are integral with the architecture and thus tend to be simple and affordable.
The Fleischmann House's glazed southern facade is fitted with external electronic louvers to provide shade, opening in the winter but closing in the summer when it's desirable to limit the amount of incoming solar heat. The double glazing has a high thermal insulation value.
Glazing is minimized on the north facade, where windows are typically net energy losers, and on the west, where windows gain excessive amounts of heat in the summer. Kuwayama says these strategies combine to create a comfortable interior environment.
In the winter, a floor heating system works in tandem with high ceiling heights to promote warm air circulation. The mass of the stone tiles stabilizes the interior temperature and radiates warmth to the occupants.
"The client requested a fair-faced in-situ concrete interior facade on the northern side. This helps with passive energy principles and offers a secondary layer to prevent moisture bridges and for additional insulation," Kuwayama says. The exterior surface of the concrete walls is covered with highly insulated metal panels.
Beneath the deceptively simple form is a showcase of energy sensitivity and a complex yet effective blend of international cultures.
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Jennifer LeClaire is a freelance writer based in Miami Beach, Florida, specializing in architecture and design.