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The grand modernist dwelling is a rare beast. The aesthetic combination of living and working was once an ideal to strive for, and the brace of studio houses built for the century's more progressive artists still provide the benchmark for bold new residential design.
This splendid villa, located close to Stuttgart, proudly continues that tradition. Designed by Marcus Kaestle, Andreas Ocker and Michel Roeder of C18 Architects for Stuttgart-based jewellery designer Georg Spreng, the structure contains a house and a studio.
Spreng, one of the original founders of Frogdesign in 1969, proved to be the perfect client, acutely visually aware and yet very open-minded, giving the young Stuttgart-based studio the ultimate commission.
The finished result lends itself to the obvious metaphors, for this is box of hidden gems that gives very little away from the outside. From the street, the white clad form is deliberately mysterious, a mostly single-storey structure broken up only by the set-back entrance courtyard and a tower room looking over the neighbourhood, while the low wall adjacent to the two front doors allows visitors to look down into a garden-level atrium, filled with a pool and a small oval island, upon which stands a solitary tree.
The entrance level is given over to the studio space, while the main living spaces are located beneath it, with the floor above projecting out above it. From the courtyard, the left hand front door takes you into another courtyard, from where blue-painted stairs lead down to the private quarters, through the kitchen, with its large circular roof light to the dining room beyond.
Behind the staircase are a series of rooms and bathrooms, with a glazed corridor leading to the stairs to the upper storey room, a space for quiet reflection, overlooking the landscape and the complex arrangement of lights and openings on the roof below.
The garden façade is perched on the edge of the steep site, with a slender pool forming a buffer zone between building and landscape, ensuring the unbroken views of the low rolling hills of the Swabian Alb are framed across the stripe of blue water. Spreng has ensured that his life and work are intertwined, with the bold splashes of colour referencing his own designs, with their strong, unfussy forms and limited material palette.
The connection with the landscape is critical. Spreng spent many years living in Canada and wanted to bring a sense of the expansive open spaces back to his homeland. To this end, the façade can be transformed by a complete set of external curtains - made from the hard-wearing white material used to clad scaffolding - which can create a diaphanous veil between inside and outside. Hanging from a track mounted in the overhanging entrance floor, they create a mysterious buffer zone (that also encompasses the swimming pool).
With its exquisite detailing, innovative touches and fluid spatial arrangement, the Haus Spreng is happy testament to a progressive architect/client relationship.
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