German firm Archequipe has renovated a townhouse in Cologne's Deutz district with a gabled facade that steps back and forth to respect the boundaries of a neighbouring residence.
Haus KLR was designed in the 1980s by architect Jutta Klare as a home for herself and her husband. Originally the five-storey building had housed an apartment for the couple's in-laws on its second floor, but this space has now been converted into an architecture studio for Archequipe.
Thirty years ahead of its completion, the architects have given the building a facelift, re-plastering the staggered white walls that comprise the south, east and north elevations.
These offsets help to maximise the building footprint on each floor while respecting a guideline that required various setbacks on different storeys.
"The valid building law requested three metres distance between ground floor and the eastbound property line while the second floor required 4.5 metres distance to the same boundary," explained the architects.
There's also a south-facing oriel window that reinterprets the local 1930s vernacular.
Archequipe's renovation included repainting the frames surrounding all the building's windows, which are either square or made from combinations of square panels.
Stone floors were restored throughout both the studio and house, which includes a large dining room that opens out to the garden. Bathrooms were also overhauled on each floor.
Photography is by Roland Unterbusch.
Here's some more information from Archequipe:
The House KLR was built 1982 in Cologne as a townhouse with two units. In these days it was one of the first realised buildings of the architect who designed it for her husband and herself. A rentable in-law apartment with a separate staircase was supposed to support the young couple financially.
The district Deutz, where House KLR is located, was traditionally regarded as a secondary part of Cologne, whose centre resides on the opposite side of the river Rhine. In the last decade the once neglected district Deutz evolved into a popular address within Cologne's inner city.
Most parts of the neighbourhood were erected in the 1930s with 3-4 story residential buildings while the narrow building site of House KLR was used as a fruit and vegetable garden until the 1980s. The simple and practical post-war architecture, nowadays most common in German cities, dominates the area today.
One challenge regarding the design was to follow building laws while producing sufficient living space on the small plot. The valid building law requested 3.0 metres distance between ground floor and the eastbound property line while the second floor required 4.5 metres distance to the same boundary. In reaction to these demands a sculptural structure originated that seems to jump back and forth playfully multiple times.
The diversely leaping cubes led to additional useful surfaces which made the construction of a sufficiently spacious roof terrace for the in-law apartment possible. The two remaining facades – one facing the street the other the garden – were designed in the style of the sculptural structure of the east façade, thereby, preserving the element of the oriel present in the surrounding buildings. Besides the motif of the oriel the small window formats and the plastered facade as typical elements of the neighbouring housing were included into the design.
The main apartment reaches over the three lower levels, the entrance to the amount of the middle level. The kitchen and dining area are set in the lowest level, so that the garden can be used as an additional dining area during the summer. The garden is also regarded as a recreational area, as for his unique position - below street level and shielded by the enclosing wall - it gains the character of a lonesome oasis in the midst of the city. The bedrooms of the main apartment are located on the first floor and are connected with the two other floors through stairs within the apartment.
The in-law apartment is also structured as a maisonette, and reaches from the second floor till the attic. Today it accommodates the Cologne architecture office of archequipe.
In 2012, exactly 30 years after building House KLR, extensive renovation work was performed. All facades were newly-plastered. Roof sheetings and window benches were renewed, the windows painted in a corresponding color. Inside, the stone cottage floors were refurbished, and walls plastered smoothly. Bathrooms on all levels were completely renovated.
Architects: archequipe, Freie Architekten
Location: Cologne, Germany
Team: Jutta Klare, Bartosz Czempiel, Sebastian Filla
Area: 300 sqm