Haus R, Bregenzerwald, Germany
Architekt Di Oskar Leo Kaufmann

As solitary solid masses embedded in the landscape sits the project Haus R. It hangs on a steep incline at almost 1100 m in altitude and a Kilometer from the nearest village of Schnepfau. To the north, the houses back on to thick woodland that cover the rest of the hill, in all other directions lay pasture lands. Because of the elevated position the house enjoys incredible views in every direction, especially of the Kanisfluh mountain and the valleys of the Bregenzerwald.

The sparsely populated landscape is reflected in the simple form and basic materials chosen for the design. The double shell is constructed without any horizontal construction joints. The entire outer wall was constructed as one solid piece. In this way the solid concrete hull corresponds to the simple mass of the surrounding mountains. The grassland grows right to the edge of the building to emphasize the concept of the house as a rock emerging from the ground naturally. In addition, a small guest house was included in the design that abides by the same rules of design. It compliments and emphasises the first by creating a ‘natural rock formation’ rather than a solitary monument.

It was important for the client to build a very compact house that would not spoil the local landscape by sealing over the top surface with unnecessary concrete, gravel or tarmac. The top surface surrounding the building had to remain as natural as possible. It was also important that house had a generous living space for entertaining and accommodating guests, but should not be too big for everyday use. As well as providing open space, the design had to incorporate smaller, more intimate areas for when people wished to relax in peace. The guest house and the separation of the sleeping rooms using split levels, are a result of these thought processes.

From the mountain track leads a set of stairs between the two houses, which are both entered from the rear, so that the entrances are not visible from the track. The ground floor is shared into separate zones through different room heights in the living and eating area, the kitchen and the circulation paths. The high ceilings in the living space allow incredible views in all directions. In the West, the rooms entire height and width is glazed to give a panoramic view of the surroundings. The lower kitchen area is orientated towards the open living room, above which a vertical air space flows through all the levels.

The first floor and cellar levels are reached through a set of floating wooden stairs that pierce the concrete of the outer wall, supporting themselves on one side only. The differing room heights also resulted from the needs of the two very different sleeping rooms. The lower sleeping room was designed for the children, and was intended to be able to accommodate a double bed or bunk bed system and therefore utilises an intentionally higher format. Latching on to the side of this room is the slightly bigger main bedroom, which has a normal room height and enjoys views of the Kanisfluh. In addition, the guest house bedroom replicates the feel and elegant style of the main house but in miniature. In the cellar, beside the storage rooms and the technical room, there is a small sauna and separate shower room.

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