The virtually ‚shocking‘ modern extension with its red fair-faced concrete and the flat roof opens the normality of living under a saddle-roof. The small estate house from the fifties, the basis of the extension, is not being copied or falsified by using the technical advances of the 21st century, but experiences an independent, modern continuation. Thus inside, at close range to each other, very different worlds of experiences emerge: the significance of great apertures, wide views, multistorey openness in contrast to the fragmentation and narrowness of the past. What makes the ensemble, including a new carport, so fascinating, is the contrast and the interplay of all these influences. Different dates of origin lead, consequently from an architectural point of view, to different results.
From the outside it’s like a model built to full scale. If all buildings were this basic, all those home maintenance suppliers would be doomed to ruin: no more need to clean out the gutters, paint the exterior, or anxiously check that the house is well sealed. There’s not a conventional joint to be seen. On the outside, this Pueblo house consists of nothing but exposed concrete, glass and window frames. Everything omitted here means a reduction of material and maintenance. The most flexible dual use of the site, for the benefit of three generations, is also consistent from an ecological point of view. Over 50 years after the completion of the Aachen cooperative building society’s Type E12 housing estate home, still in a near-original state of preservation, Matthias R Schmalohr sought a contrast that would emphasize the distinctiveness of the two building masses – the existing house and the new extension – linked by a glass corridor. On one side cosy confinement and romantically small spaces, on the other large openings, long vistas and double-height voids in a living space of only 95 square metres.
Although something almost fort-like assures its domestic intimacy, this house is liberating in the sense of Modernism’s old motto of ‘liberated living’. Does it also live up to the images of classic Modernism? The modern interior is dominated by minimalism, limited material and colours, hidden technology and complete or selective views. A floor-to-ceiling sliding door facing the terrace and entrance platform provides views of the south-facing garden and the carport with storage room – also newly built. The dining area, shielded from view, is lit by the large library gallery window, which looks to the east. The toilet on the ground floor, built into an oaken cupboard, continues its dark appearance on the outside wall. At the moment the young family uses two-thirds of the attic, belonging to the grandparents gabled house, as their first floor: a bathroom with a dressing room connected to it, and a room for a child. The parents’ bedroom, also upstairs, is little more than a bunt, comparable to the sleeping accommodations on a steamship from the 1920s. The interior is kept without accessories, and the smooth surfaces of the walls and the furniture meet at the shadow gap.