New House At Ingoldingen
Oberschwaben, Germany

  1. Brief
  2. Summary of Research Themes
  3. Collaborators


A new house for a musician, a biochemist, and their offspring, on a plot among other new houses on the edge of the village of Ingoldingen (population c.2500) which has a distant view of the Alps on a clear day. The house should include a music room for teaching and home concerts, living and dining spaces suitable for entertaining, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a double garage and somewhere to plant the basil where the slugs won't get at it. The music room should be accessible without passing through living rooms so that pupils can visit unobtrusively. Given that many people build more-or-less identical kit houses on such plots, this bespoke house should be individual - fitting its site but also acknowledging broader horizons. Planning rules were specific, requiring: the approximate position of the building on the plot, finished ground floor level, eaves level, the angle of the roof pitch, the direction of the roof ridge, and the percentage of dormer window possible.

The key design move in configuring the house is a five-sided plan which - because of the specified consistent roof pitch - serves to crank the ridge pole and give the house a distinctive shape. There is an acoustic justification for this: ideal geometries tend to concentrate the first reflections of sound in unwelcome ways, so this irregular shape helps to tune the music room and living and dining spaces. The shape is also unfamiliar and contemporary, whilst acknowledging the familiarity of the pitched roof. Two-and-a-half metre square windows open to the Alpine view on each floor and survey the adjacent valley to the onion dome of a church in the next village. This view should help relieve the tedium of practising scales in the music room. Formally, the big windows are dramatised by being brought to the face of the wall. The volume of the living-dining space is important: the height and open pitch of the room is intended to offer a capacious atmosphere. Its generosity has a hint of grandeur, a conceit appropriate for holding classical concerts at home. The kitchen-living-dining space has nine windows, nine sources of light and view, the nine lives of that room. These openings animate the atmosphere, casting intersecting shadows which track-out the passage of time on the surfaces of the room on a sunny day; the pattern of the two exposed trusses traced by their adjacent rooflights. Glimpses of sky and view are contrived around certain sitting and standing positions, their relationships and the resulting light levels carefully explored through physical models. Openings are curated like picture frames, obscuring and revealing glimpses in and out, highlighting aspects of the situation and the clients' lives over time.

Summary of Research Themes

Acoustic investigations: carried out into the shape of the music room and living/dining spaces to ensure appropriate sound qualities. These will be tuned further when the space is more-or-less complete.
Materials: aerated clay block construction, complex timber roof construction
Familiarity: making a building both obviously contemporary and also with a familiar sense of houseness.
Framing: strategies for curating views in, through
Qualities: indeterminate extent (spaces whose full extent is never visible from one space)


Claudia and Bernhard Schmid: clients
Gapp und Gapp Freie Architekten, Warthausen

Principal: Adam Sharr BSc(Hons) BArch(Dist) PhD ARB RIBA