Through a process of rethinking the architecture of a single family home, the ventilation acts as a generator of form and ideologies. A change of scale takes place – the ventilation machine becomes inhabited and the normally suppressed part of a building becomes the main actor, defines preliminarily everything. The regular sub-parts of a ventilation machine, such as the vent-grill, filters, standardized ventilation shafts… act as generators of form and shape the spaces accordingly.
There are 3 sub-systems within the house – kids, parents, common area – which all have their own ventilation system and are strictly separated to prevent any penetration of air from one system into another one. The rooms are organized according to their necessity of temperature and relative humidity and follow therefor the thermodynamic laws.
The fresh supply-air streams from the filter-layer into the bedrooms, which stand at the home’s lowest point and then flows through the sub-systems until it reaches the bathrooms from where it gets canalised to the greenhouse. The exhaust-air vent-stack is placed in the center of the house, which includes the access to the house, and to the ornithologist platform with the pigeonry at the top of the vent-stack and gets tempered due to the warm exhaust-air in the center of it. The facade is made out of rear ventilated velted steel sandwich-pannels and the floors are color coded, regarding their function within the ventilation system.
The inversion of hierarchies suggests new typologies – the house becomes a ventilation machine.
What prompted the project?
The architecture of a single family house is often overly pragmatic and structures itself within apparent deadlocked hierarchies which are strictly followed and not questioned in a necessary way. The project is the result of an attempt to scrutinize and question these normative planning processes and to provoke a change in hierarchies.
What questions does the project raise?
By dealing with a basic/trivial architectural task of the single family house on the one hand and the issue of the ongoing technologization and mechanization on the other hand, the project plays with the friction between known and foreign things / between comfort and technology.
The ventilation system, inherent part of modern hygienic architecture for the last 100 years, is a symbol for mans control over his environment. This environment however also increasingly takes control over every part of our life and thus gains a sublime quality.
Even though highly technologized aspects like the ventilation system are a fixed component of a building, they rarely capture the interest of architects. Often they are seen as a necessary obstacle in our everyday work. Through the suggestion of a change of hierarchy, the ventilation system becomes productive as a design tool and acts as the main generator of form, space and atmosphere. A normally suppressed part of a building becomes the main actor.
Thus, the project aims to question deadlocked routines, views and tools of architecture. It investigates a hidden creative potential in supposedly strictly technological fields of building planning processes.
What is for you the power of the drawing as unique site where this speculation exists?
The theoretical, speculative site of the drawing opens up possibilities to challenge our understanding of the known.
To question familiar and established hierarchies, the drawing can act as an important tool and filter in between reality and ideology. It spans a site / world of speculations and provocations.
In a radical way it can raise questions, that wouldn’t be raised in the real world. Ideas can reflect back to it and influence/change the deadlocked processes.
What informed the choice of drawings through which you reveal the project from the sections and plans to shots of interior views?
The drawings of the project speak the technological language of the machine. They are not merely a form of representation but act in themselves as a design tool and source of inspiration that we consciously use to pursue the topic of the house.
The interior shots complement the sober, mechanical world depicted in the drawings. In the detailed large scale model, the matter-of-fact machine to inhabit reveals it‘s spatial and atmospheric qualities.
How do you imagine the life of these inhabitants as different to those of a more canonical house?
The spatial organization of the house follows the physical laws of airflow and thermodynamic, playing with the different thermic requirements of the rooms. According to their function, they are organized, shaped and linked based on their necessity of temperature and relative humidity. This leads to a strong functional subdivision inside the house – the sleeping-room for example is split into separate spaces for sleeping, getting dressed and working / playing. To function as a ventilation machine, the common rooms of the single family house are complemented with specific rooms and spatial layers that act as filter, ventilation grilles, shafts or exhaust air stacks.
Thus, the project offers a new way of perceiving and experiencing the known, familiar and often banalized spaces.
What is for you the architect's most important tool?
For us, a tool should act as filter in between reality and ideology, and reflect back to both of them. For our practice, it is important to work with different tools simultaneously. Plans and drawings but especially also models and illustrations are used throughout the whole design process to pursue the specific character of a project.