House O by Peter Ruge Architekten

The Berlin based architecture firm Peter Ruge Architekten, the firm where I worked while living in the vibrant German capital, has recently completed a wonderful residential project in a small village outside the city. It's simplicity and elegance make it stand out as a great example of contemporary residential architecture. It is particularly noteworthy as it demonstrates the ability for a modern aesthetic to be implemented in a historic town context. 


The residential building lies upon a hill in a beautiful small village in the district Potsdam-Mittelmark in a fantastic scenic situation with breathtaking views over the nearby lake. The surroundings are dominated by a combination of historical and modern mansions nestled into a picturesque landscape. To preserve this feeling, as many of the large old trees on the site were preserved as possible.

The new building was designed as a modern residential building with 3 flats. The floor plans are designed to be flexible and open. The main flat extends across two floors. Simple and reserved materials (exposed concrete, glass, wood, natural stone) underline the modern architectural style to accentuate focus on the connection between the interior and outdoor spaces. All upper floors can be accessed via the sculptural external staircase.

The concept for the facades plays with the contrast of open and closed dependent upon the surroundings and importance of natural perspectives. The narrow sides are glazed toward the south into the garden, and toward the north with the magnificent view over the lake. The west and east facades to the neighbouring sites are mainly closed and designed with large prefabricated concrete elements and some narrow glass bands. The inside of the building appears light, bright and friendly through the open glazed south and north facade. During the seasons the changing surroundings and the large deciduous trees will continuously vary the spatial impression. I the winter months the views will open up to be panoramic allowing the bright sunlight and warmth to enter the interior. During summer the leafy canopy of the trees will filter the light, block unwanted heat gain, and make dapple shadows dance across the interior.

The building is heated using geothermal energy with an integrated bus technology allowing the individual residents to control their environment.

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