Köln, 1997-2000, b&k+b,m Arno Brandlhuber & Bernd Kniess + Anne-Julchen Bernhardt, Björn Martenson+ Atelier van Lieshout, Olaf Nicolai; Jürgen Bernhardt (Tragwerk)
This building is located in Köln-Ehrensfeld, a typical Cologne residential neighborhood characterized by its mix of buildings from different periods of the city’s postwar history. Due to the legal situation and the complex contextual parameters, a gap between two existing buildings was not developed for over 50 years until the city gave circumstantial permission to overbuild the site. The 6.6 m x 42 m lot was burdened with various restrictions concerning distance space, ridge height, existing structure and maximum buildable volume, among others. One of the adjoining buildings was already built as an exception due to its two-story height. No further development in the area was anticipated. Therefore, it was feared that adding a second exceptional building would completely block light from entering the buildings at the rear. Instead, we decided to use this constraint to determine the building’s staggered form. The living and working space at Geisselstrasse addresses the array of legal conditions while generously providing a sequence of 360 light-flooded square meters on the extremely long and narrow plot. The volume closest to the street contains a three-story house with living quarters and the client’s atelier; at the rear there is a two-story garden house for their children. The two units are connected via a separable single-story link that contains shared spaces such as kitchens and bathrooms. The building’s irregular shape and connected volumes therefore make full use of this infill site. The building is understood as a living and working space which, despite the neighborhood’s high density, is still able to provide green and outdoor areas of varying sizes by using the terraces, roof garden, ground floor garden, and inner courtyard, which are in constant dialogue with the interior. The concrete structure is clad using two facade systems: the atelier is covered in multi-layered polycarbonate leafs and aluminium louver windows, while the garden-house has an insulated glass facade with sliding wooden elements.