Modernistic design of a fully-glazed and seemingly windowless villa
Architects: Zoran Bodrozic
Location: Vienna, Austria
Area: 2.443 ft²/ 227 m²
Photo courtesy: Robert Niederl
“Our vision of successful living always leads us to two-sided considerations: to “on the one hand, and on the other” scenarios. For example, we want to feel secure and snug, knowing we can close the door on the world, and at the same time feel liberated. So the question arises of how we can combine and balance both needs. Is there a way from “on the one hand, and on the other” to “not only, but also”? A fusion born out of the spirit of our times.
The first question that arises is that of the ideal location. And even this consideration involves bridging differences. People are sociable and have a need for solitude. They want to be in the big city and in a village, they want to enjoy the excitement of urban life and feel like they can lose themselves in nature.
This begins with the search for a building site that reflects a genius loci allowing for the realisation of many visions. It was found at the summit of Pötzleinsdorf mountain. You are up above with a view over the city and at the same time nestled into a natural basin. You are living in the metropolis of Vienna, but situated at the city’s perimeter where there is a village atmosphere and it is green and countrified.
The garden is a kind of “secret garden” thanks to the surrounding green belt (splendid isolation) and is only connected to the public sphere by way of an alley (flag). The treetops have an enlarging effect on the space, encompassing the natural surroundings. The property lines are therefore only of relevance up to the height of the Sky-Frame glazed ground floor; above this, you are in an open green space.
This single-family home has three floors. It provides the opportunity to fulfil these seemingly opposing wishes. The gently sloping hill-side location on the ridge and the property configuration have allowed for an inset building construction, creating a secluded, intimate situation and sense of security. Thanks to the Sky-Frame frameless sliding windows, an unobstructed view over Vienna can be enjoyed from the first and second floor. The interplay between water surfaces and a waterfall is a feature of the ambiance. The interior of the building brings to mind a wellness oasis, with a sauna and indoor pool.
The facade is defined by the dominating element of a robust frame that floats over the terrace like the architrave of a Greek temple. This beam serves as the leitmotif while transforming the accessible area into an imaginary room. The counterpart to this is a reference to the atrium: the facade is set back on the ground floor and suggests a courtyard situated adjacent to the pool. The motif of the atrium, the antique style of a windowless villa, has been realised by means of the modernistic design of a fully-glazed and seemingly windowless structure. The architecture is both extroverted and centred. The frame design optimally presents the space – opening and enclosing it simultaneously.
The membrane of the suspended frame is featured in the view of the facade, where the terrace is bordered at its corners with perforated steel plates. These suggest the semi-transparency that has actually been created in the interior of the building using state-of-the-art technology.
Not only do the perforated steel plates indicate the borders of that space belonging to the house, they also convey the sensation that there is a wider exterior mantle that is equally perforated and chaotic, namely the wall of leaves of the surrounding natural environment, the trees and bushes that fringe the structure. This wall of foliage is also part of the membrane in a wider sense. The various permeable layers that allow continuity between the interior and exterior are integral to the free-flowing design concept.
Further, the house is heated and cooled with a heat pump (ground probes), equivalent to a low-energy house (specific heating demand 32 kWh/[m2 a]). Domestic ventilation has been installed. All functions are bus-controlled and flexibly expandable. A natural swimming pond has been created in the garden that functions without technology. An indoor pool is heated by the heat pump. Cabling for a PV system on the roof allows for upgrading that would make the house energy self-sufficient (in combination with electric cars and battery charger in the garage).”
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