MVRDV co-founder Jacob van Rijs explains how the staggered formation of his firm's Haus am Hang in Stuttgart gives every floor its own outdoor space in the latest movie from our exclusive series (+ movie).
Completed in 2005, the timber-clad family residence is located near the Württemberg vineyards on the outskirts of the city. It stands on a sloping site, which prompted MVRDV to stagger its three floors.
This resulted in what van Rijs describes as a "staircase" volume. It is divided into two halves by a glazed middle section with a similar zigzagging shape, which creates a triple-height space inside.
"We proposed to do something like this on the hill, and every level has an outer space on the garden," he explains in the new film.
"To be able to create more internal connections, we shifted the stair out and divided it in two, to have some sort of stair void in the middle, where you would enter from the top."
The overall effect makes the 300-square-metre building look like a pile of stacked boxes – a technique that continues to be popular today, with recent examples including a house in Switzerland and a three-pronged residence in New York.
Haus am Hang's top floor is at street level, while the lowest floor opens out to a lawn at the back.
"The house is really straightforward but it offers a very interesting experience, especially when you come in, you are really surprised to look down all the way, and it sort of has a view through the house along the slope," adds the architect.
Inside, a combined kitchen and dining room occupies the top floor, the middle floor contains two bedrooms and a living room, and the children's rooms and play area can be found at the bottom.
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Residents Michael Schad and Heidrun Schad-Mattern say the house satisfied their brief for a strong connection between indoor and outdoor living spaces.
"The connection to the outside, to nature, is visible from every corner in the house," says Schad-Mattern. "The generosity of space in the house is something you only become aware of once you step inside."
Schad adds: "You can see that the nine-metre-high space staggered through the levels of the building creates an unusual spatial feeling which is very novel and quite special in a house."
Van Rijs co-founded Rotterdam-based MVRDV in 1993 with partners Winy Maas and Nathalie de Vries. This is the seventh movie in a series profiling the firm's work, which also features a Paris office block with a hollow centre and a library contained within a glass pyramid.
Photography is by Roland Halbe.