Ian Shaw Architekten

Ian Shaw Architekten

Frankfurt am Main, DE


Villa W

With its windowless facade and recessed entranceway, this white monolithic house appears impenetrable from the street, delineating a clear demarcation between the public and private realms. Surrounding properties are a mixture of two and three storey pitch roof housing. All have been carefully referenced in determining the project’s scale, mass and proportions. A series of setbacks on floors one and two allude to the timeless ziggurat form. And as a way of a vertical counterpoint to its robust horizontality, the traditional chimney is articulated as an elegant rectilinear column.

Villa W is about generating presence. The build is Romanesque in stature. This is architecture communicating through its structural ontology the importance of place and dwelling.

The scheme utilizes a restrained palette of materials: for the externals walls, one course of high insulation clay blocks; for the internal walls, cast in-situ concrete which is used also for the floors and ceilings, the villa’s roof, and the inverted U frame installation that organises the fenestration to the south elevation. The house is finished in a mineral based render, so preserving the breathability of the walls. As there is no specific insulation layer used in the build, the external walls are specified at 450mm thick in order to achieve the desired U-values.

Villa W provides 640 sq metres of living space over four levels. The floor-to-ceiling heights are generous: 2.4m, 2.8m, 2.6m and 2.4m from the lower ground level to the second floor respectively. The main social spaces, a living and dining area on the ground floor and a gallery/study on the first floor, are located to the rear of the property, orientated towards the garden via the fully glazed south facing elevation. Here, the building’s structural credentials allow for the insertion of a dramatic double height space (6m x 6m x 3.4m), so articulating these interiors as one large interconnected two-tier cuboid.

The glazing to the south elevation comprises a series of bespoke triple pane units: three for the ground floor (3.5m x 2.8m, 3m x 2.8m and 3.5m x 2.8m); three for the first floor (3.5m x 2.6m, 3m x 2.6m and 3.5m x 2.6m); and two for second floor (3.5m x 2.4m and 3.8m x 2.4m). The scheme’s tectonic rigour is further disseminated through the inclusion of a substantial glass unit (6.0m x 2.8m) to the ground floor west elevation.

The development’s second floor L shaped composition, with full height glazing on three sides, will deliver scenic views of the Tanus mountain range. A skylight situated above the staircase will provide diffused north light. This soft, even illumination will create a sense of expectation as one ascends, which, on fine days, will be heightened by diagonal rays of sunlight via the pavilion’s south west glazing.

The use of light as a building element, defining space and animating form, is utilized throughout the project. The seemingly solid north facing façade is subtly detailed with a recessed glazed entranceway and a horizontal slot above the front door. These will gently illuminate the hallway, enabling the dwelling’s main light source, its south elevation, to draw one through and into the hub of the home.

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Status: Under Construction
Location: Frankfurt am Main, DE
Additional Credits: All images courtesy of Ian Shaw Architekten.
Photography: Felix Krumbholz
Modelmaker: Innovation Technologies GmbH, Frankfurt am Main

Project Data

Location Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Architects Ian Shaw Architekten BDA RIBA
Type of project Four storey new build
Client anonymous

Funding private

Total cost 1.75 M Euros 

Contract duration 9 months
Gross internal floor area 640m²

Form of contract Standard German contract

Quantity surveyor Ian Shaw Architekten
Planning supervisor Ian Shaw
Structural Engineer RSP Frankfurt


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