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0148 Rachel
Krampnitz, 2012, Brandlhuber+ Emde, Burlon, Viereckel; Peter Behrbohm, Klara Bindl, Victoria Hlubek, Tobias Hönig, Cornelia Müller, Markus Rampl, Paul Reinhardt, Jacob Steinfelder; Andreas Schulz / Pichler Ingenieure (Tragwerk); Hochschule Regensburg: Markus Blagau, Franziska Gareis, Katharina Handl, Martha Michalski, Marlit Pfeiffer, Marian Prifling, Katharina Sauer, Johannes Sporrer, Marco Wagner, Miriam Zenk; Marlene Schulz

Rachel is on the site of the former Kulturbaracke, a typical GDR typology used to bring culture to production site. It was part of the East German knitwear corporation Ernst Lück, located in Krampnitz, near the border between East and West Germany. Over time, the building had fallen into utter ruin and was no longer usable. Moreover, the building is located in a scattered neighborhood where no new buildings are permitted. A ‘grandfather clause’ only allowed modifications if no alteration to the existing structure was carried out. Tearing down the old structure and subsequently rebuilding it was out of question. The law permitted modernization only under the condition that the building would remain standing at all times. On the basis of these bureaucratic specifications, the chosen approach was inspired by the eponymous English artist Rachel Whiteread, who built House (1993), a Victorian London residential building, in cast concrete. The existing walls of the building were used as part of the formwork and cast in concrete. Architecture students built the entire structure in a workshop, using the existing timber framework for the formwork. This process of casting and removing, together with the resulting imprint of the wood, is proof that no wall was ever taken away. Abiding by the regulation, three walls were kept standing at all times. Unlike Whiteread’s project, the result was not a monolith. Instead, the poured concrete walls, which testify to the history of the site, form the new building envelope. This new concrete envelope contains a guesthouse with one room, in which all elements are reduced to a minimum. Instead of central heating, a single oven is used to heat the small volume, allowing the building to be used from Spring until Autumn. Instead of building an extra room, the toilet is concealed behind a mirrored wall, which also changes the user’s perception of the space. Water is carried through exposed pipes and is heated in a small boiler to use for the shower and sink, which occupy a small corner of the room. A sliding glass door fills the previously missing parts of the ruined structure. Spanning the full height of the single story guesthouse and opening the space to the adjacent garden, the new vistas look out towards their neighbor: The Antivilla.

Photos © Erica Overmeer
© Arno Brandlhuber