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A Graceful Vision: Weekend House by GAFPA

In contrast to an ordinary house, this weekend family retreat was meant to be a purely private place without any representative function. This is why the building deliberately turns its back on the road, opening onto the adjacent agricultural land. Access is concealed behind a hedge, and the streetside rooms can be closed off with folding shutters when the residents are absent. When they are open, these shutters become slat-like projections which guarantee a degree of privacy inside. 

The individual rooms are distributed over an asymmetrical, U-shaped floor plan. The north part of the house is divided by a tract of three side-by-side bedrooms, a bathroom and a toilet. The private bedrooms have been kept to a minimum area and offer space only for one single bed each. On the other hand, the communal areas are more generous. These are found at each end of the U and are visually connected by windows facing each other across a narrow inner courtyard. Two jutting, roofed terraces extend the interior space to the outside. The two-storey dining room is delimited from the kitchen by a steel spiral staircase. This stairway leads to the upper storey, where the parents’ bedroom is located. 

The entire building was erected in wood and elevated on concrete piles. Raising the house was meant not only to convey the effect of lightness, but also to involve as little soil sealing as possible. The façade’s framework has a rhythmic pattern of fine, dark-grey steel supports. The space in between has been filled with large-format wood panels or panes of glass. The roof, which seems astonishingly flat, consists of jutting I-profiles hidden inside the grass covering. 

The delicate appearance of the house, which seems to float weightlessly above the meadow, calls to mind traditional Japanese architecture. The terraces, which are accessible via large stone steps, are designed to resemble a classical Japanese verandah known as an engawa. With its slender, graceful construction, this elevated structure and its resulting lightness present the house by GAFPA architects as a Western version of Japanese housebuilding. The house fits harmoniously into its surrounding landscape and offers optimal conditions for a relaxing, recuperative weekend.

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DETAIL 1+2/2020
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