Villa W’s monastic appearance sets it apart from its immediate suburban neighbourhood. From the street the house seems almost impenetrable: the entranceway is recessed; the first floor, windowless; and the second floor fenestration, well set back. By contrast, the rear (south) elevation is completely glazed. Surrounding properties are mix of two and three storey pitch roof housing. All have been carefully referenced in determining the villa's scale and massing.
The building as a whole is configured as a cast in-situ concrete structure, with an infill wall composition comprising one course of high insulation clay blocks. At 450 mm thick, this comfortably delivers the required U-values. Both plaster and render finishes are mineral based to ensure excellent wall breathability.
Internally, the four floors provide 640 sq metres of living space. The rooms are generous and well proportioned, with ceiling heights measuring 2.4m, 2.8m, 2.6m and 2.4m from the lower ground level to the second floor respectively. All the concrete ceilings are left exposed in line with the villa’s elemental aesthetic.
The main social spaces, which consist of a L-shaped living and dining area on the ground floor (one of a series of 'L-shaped' configurations within the dwelling) and a gallery/study on the first floor, are located to the rear, orientated towards the garden via the fully glazed south facing elevation. Here, the building's substantial framework allows for the insertion of a dramatic double height space (6m x 6m x 3.4m), so enabling these interiors to function as one large, interconnected, light-filled interior.
At the front of the house, a symmetrical spatial and fenestration plan organises the two first-floor bedrooms, each with an en-suite wet room. All four spaces are fitted with deeply framed full height triple glazed units (2.6m x 1.5m). These give both side elevations a real sense of stature.
This depth and stature is also very much evident in the sizeable, sunken trapezoidal courtyard that adjoins the property on its west elevation. Defined by two hefty concrete retaining walls, this atmospheric void allows daylight to penetrate deep into the lower ground level via a L-shaped glazing arrangement.
At the rear of the villa, three full height glazing units for both the ground floor and first floor, and two for the top floor exploit the building's south facing aspect. In addition, generous glazing on the west elevation, to both the ground floor and top floor, ensure an ample supply of late afternoon/early evening sunlight.
Inside, pristine white walls and a coquina stone slab flooring surface enhance the light-filled interiors. The flooring extends out onto the adjoining L-shaped terrace, so bringing the outdoors in and vice versa.
Building on this inside-outside dynamic, the similarly L-shaped top floor configuration enables the house 'to step outside' its immediate location. Its full height glazing on three sides offers scenic views of the surrounding countryside, with the Taunus mountain range being visible to the north. Diffused north light from the skylight above the stairwell creates a sense of expectation as one ascends, which on fine days is heightened by diagonal rays of light via the south-west fenestration.
This delicate use of light is equally on show at the front of the house, courtesy of the simple rectangular slot detailed in the overhang above the recessed entranceway together with the full-height sandblasted glass screen integrated within the front door design. These gently illuminate the hallway, the light becoming brighter as one enters the voluminous, south-facing main living space.