Windows of varying sizes stud and penetrate the concrete wall planes, offsetting this laconic regularity. The concrete has also been chipped away manually to create a gently rutted surface finish, so the building’s rigorous geometry is counterpointed by rustic texture and a haptic, rough-hewn materiality. Podium and tower are distinguished by subtly different types of concrete aggregate. This unvarnished, functional spirit also extends to the interior, with its raw concrete walls and floors. In places, the concrete is lined with thin strips of pine, stained white and grey, as if the shuttering were still in place. In the living spaces, floors of warm eucalyptus denote a more domestic ambience.
An explicit distinction between the couple’s work and home life underscores the arrangement of spaces, giving the building an internal complexity, belied by the monolithic quality of its exterior. The upper level of the podium is a modern piano nobile, containing cooking, dining and living functions within a single fluid space. The podium’s lower floor will be appropriated as a fabrication workshop for the practice.
Sleeping quarters are housed in the two lower floors of the tower, with three levels of workspaces and studios above. These upper floors are accessed by a separate entrance and staircase that bypasses the living accommodation. Another separate staircase ties together the living quarters and workshop. So while the realms of work and home coexist, they remain physically discrete and self-contained, slotting together with the elegant economy and exactitude of a Chinese puzzle. ‘Trapped between these two factual worlds domestic life rests protected: a large room for daily use and a couple of bedrooms piled on it for the night,’ says von Ellrichshausen.