Urban Villa

In 1980, the firm of Moore, Ruble, and Yudell created a master plan and established design guidelines for the reconstruction of Tegel, a suburb of Berlin that had been severely bombed in World War II and subsequently rebuilt in a random fashion.  The plan includes areas for leisure, culture, and housing.  The latter category calls for a series of five-story row houses and six two-and-a-half-story freestanding villas.  The other villas were designed by Charles Moore, John Hejduk, Paola Portoghesi, Robert A. M. Stern, and Antoine Grumbach.  The footprint of each building is sixteen-by-sixteen meters, and all have similar cornice lines.  Each villa includes six or seven one-and-two bedroom apartments.

As the site had been bombed, there was no immediate context within which to establish the design of the villa.  The solution was informed by an early 20th Century, middle-European multifamily house typology as well as by the early residential work of Mies van der Rohe in and around Berlin as represented by the first Perls House of 1911.  The form shaped by this premodernist vocabulary was then ruptured.  To use it unaltered would imply that nothing of significance had subsequently transpired.  Thus, the stucco building, tripartite in its dormered bays, is cleaved in two by a “winter garden” passageway identified by a red metal grid. 

The grid conveys a message that is deliberately ambiguous: Is the house under construction, or being torn down?  Is the building conventionally constructed, or is it hung on this metal scaffolding? Cleaving here is also something of a critique; i.e., the building is presented in the colors of the German flag. The east/west split of Berlin (extant at the time this project was conceived) informed the work.