Dezeen Magazine

Twin gables front Duplex by Atelier ST

Atelier ST completes Leipzig house disguised to look like two

German studio Atelier ST has completed Duplex, a generous family house near Leipzig that was designed to look like two semi-detached properties.

Home to a family of four, the residence spreads across two matching gabled blocks. They sit side by side, although one is positioned further forward than the other.

Gable fronts of Duplex by Atelier ST
Duplex is a house formed of two gabled blocks

Atelier ST founders Silvia Schellenberg-Thaut and Sebastian Thaut said the aim was to satisfy the family's requirements for space while also creating a building that looked at home in the small-scale suburban neighbourhood.

"It was clear to us from the beginning that we needed to create a building that fitted into the context in terms of its proportions and silhouette, but also radiated a certain radicalism," explained the couple.

Exterior of Duplex by Atelier ST
The building is constructed from low-cement concrete

"Only upon entering the building does the complexity reveal itself," they told Dezeen.

The starting point for the design came from a "run-down and mould-infested" house that stood on the site previously. Comprising a main house and an extension, it set a precedent for a double-peak roof.

Kitchen in Duplex by Atelier ST
The interior has split-level floors

The arrangement allows the building's interior to be more complex than it appears from the outside, with split-level floors and a range of ceiling heights.

In particular, a setback on the first floor turns the main living room into a grand double-height space.

Fireplace in Duplex by Atelier ST
The living room boasts a double-height ceiling

Atelier ST's clients previously lived in the city, in a converted school auditorium with a barrel-vaulted ceiling. This led to the use of arches and circles for doorways and windows.

The most striking is the main entrance, a circular glazing reveal with timber mullions.

The building structure is primarily built from concrete, which was cast against wooden boards to create a texture that resonates with the neighbouring woodland.

"The site is directly adjacent to a forest of deciduous trees with thick trunks and rough bark," said Schellenberg-Thaut and Thaut.

"Rough-cast concrete, created with boards of different widths and depths, seemed to us a suitable response."

En-suite bathroom in Duplex by Atelier ST
Board-marked concrete walls are left exposed internally

To improve the building's eco-credentials, the architects chose a low-cement concrete that serves as both a load-bearing structure and exterior facade. The foundations are meanwhile built from recycled concrete.

"The building is insulated with an innovative, natural hemp-lime insulation on the inside of the exterior walls," said the pair.

Semi-circular window
Arches and circles feature throughout the design

The split-level floors create natural divides between rooms.

On the ground floor, they allow the kitchen to sit slightly slower than the living room. Upstairs, they separate the main bedroom suite from two further bedrooms and a study.

"One of our main goals is to always generate a floor plan that is tailored to the needs of its users like a good suit," added Schellenberg-Thaut and Thaut.

Entrance to Duplex by Atelier ST
Timber mullions adorn the glazed, circular main entrance

"The idea here was to create generously sized rooms with a connection to nature on the ground floor and secluded, private retreat areas upstairs," they continued.

"We wanted the family to feel at home immediately and, at the same time, like they are on vacation."

Other innovative residential designs in Germany include an aluminium-clad micro home and a "crystal-like" concrete house.

The photography is by Clemens Poloczek.

More images and plans

Site plan
Site plan
Ground floor plan
Ground floor plan
First floor plan
First floor plan
Cross section
Cross section
Long section
Long section
Duplex by Atelier ST
Gable of Duplex by Atelier ST
Round entrance to Duplex by Atelier ST
Entrance to Duplex by Atelier ST
Living room in Duplex by Atelier ST
Kitchen in Duplex by Atelier ST
Arched doorways in Duplex by Atelier ST
Round window in Duplex by Atelier ST
Arched mirror in Duplex by Atelier ST
First floor of Duplex by Atelier ST
Board-marked concrete in Duplex by Atelier ST
Duplex by Atelier ST
Board-marked concrete in Duplex by Atelier ST
Concrete facade of Duplex by Atelier ST
Garden of Duplex by Atelier ST