Architects Directory 2020: Pool Leber Arkiteken, Germany

Architects Directory 2020: Pool Leber Arkiteken, Germany

Munich-based Pool Leber Architekten was set up in 2011 by Isabella Leber and Martin Pool. The team approaches every commission in a ‘case-specific’ way, which in turn influences their choices of techniques, materials, forms and structures – eschewing the idea of a signature aesthetic style. Villa U is one of the latest residential offerings in a smartly growing portfolio. Set in the Gräfelfing countryside outside Munich, the structure was conceived as a single, solid, brick block, with three long, distinctive openings and a double height space inside carved out to add drama, spatial luxury and a sense of scale.




Set on a triangular piece of land, the sculptural form of Villa U is seemingly carved out a single, clay block. Its unusual form is a direct result of the plot’s unique geometries, as the home – a warm grey brick-clad single family house in the sleepy residential Munich suburb of Gräfelfing – turns its back to the main road and follows the site’s footprint in its volumetric expression.

The architects, Munich based studio Pool Leber, cherish the idea of working on a residential commission. Designing a house means ‘to feel the needs of the client, to recognise the place, to develop a succinct idea, and to bring all of them together into one big whole,’ say directors Isabella Leber and Martin Pool. 

In this commission, this involves three long openings and a double height space created within the long southern side to add depth and interest to the facades, as well as ensure a spacious, dramatic interior inside, where life can unfold. The double height space becomes the heart of the composition, featuring a further sunken down floor level that creates a cocooning environment for the living space and spills out to an adjacent paved terrace. 

Around it, a roughly L-shaped arrangement spans two floors, with the edges occupied by bedrooms, which are lit by elegant, large, black-framed windows. Meanwhile two of these panoramic windows look out towards the spacious garden and swimming pool outside. 

Tall ceilings, galleries, terraces and atria give a majestic feel to the whole, taking the residential typology into the realm of a cultural space; an area where the practice has already excelled in, with their Kulturhistorisches Zentrum Westmünsterland, a striking brick and concrete history museum and cultural hub for the city of Vreden, completed in 2018.

As for the practice’s ideal challenge? ‘Our dream commission would be to design a parliament!’ they say. §

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