in the invisible house
Can invisibility be enhanced even further? Delugan Meissl Associated Architects selected a kitchen from miniki for their prefabricated house Casa invisible, making a compelling statement with a dual game of hide and seek.
Historians say that Leonardo da Vinci invented not only the flying machine, but also the first prefabricated house: with the help of finished timber-frame panels, he supposedly constructed a neoclassical garden pavilion. And yet, despite this promising start, 500 years later the product range in this intriguing industry still leaves a great deal to be desired. “When some time ago we took a good look around the international market”, reports Roman Delugan from the Vienna architecture firm Delugan Meissl & Associated Architects, “we realised that there were hardly any really high-quality prefabricated houses out there – and even fewer at a reasonable price.” The architects therefore decided to develop and implement their own design.
With a floor area of just 45 square metres, the Casa has an unusually introverted format for DMAA, who have made a name for themselves over the last ten years with much grander prestige projects. These include the EYE Film Institute in Amsterdam (2013) and the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart (2008), in which the architects managed to breathtakingly capture the dynamics of the legendary automobile in concrete. With their newly developed container bungalow Casa invisibile, they demonstrate that they are capable of bringing their passion for detail to a smaller-scale project, while never losing sight of the big picture.
Two prototypes have been erected thus far in Slovenia. They are currently being used by the architects themselves as a way to gather experience and evaluate their findings. Enhancements are now in the works.
The unusual external appearance of the building is already making waves, as demonstrated by an amusing anecdote.
»A reporter once came by, got out of the car and then asked with some irritation, ›So where is the house?‹ We were of course very pleased,«
reports Roman Delugan. The mirrored aluminium façade does in fact pick up the patterns of the sky, trees and surroundings almost undistorted, so that the Casa invisibile truly lives up to its name. It virtually disappears into its environment, losing its character as a foreign body.
A similar sense of understatement shapes the design of the interior. While the walls of the Casa are clad entirely in light-grey-stained fir to form an elegant but neutral background for the furniture, the design of the kitchen is at first perplexing. »The smallest kitchens available commercially either didn’t have the right dimensions for us or they were aesthetically totally unsatisfactory,« Roman Delugan explains. »That is, until we found miniki!« With miniki, everything fit right from the start: »Thanks to the modular system, we were able to easily customise the kitchen to fit the required dimensions.« What’s more, the material, birch multiplex, combines high tactile appeal with formal stability, and the stainless steel sink, the appliances and the fittings are among the best available on the market. The decisive factor, though, was the intelligent concept:
»The fact that the hob and sink disappear elegantly under a hood when not in use instantly appealed to us«, says Delugan, »convincing us that this was indeed the right choice.«
DMAA find the partnership successful »physiologically« as well, as Roman Delugan puts it. While the white exterior of the miniki signals relaxation and tranquillity, the choice of bold colours that appear when the kitchen is opened have a »natural psycho-active« effect, providing inspiration while cooking – and perhaps even when doing the washing up. This built-in energy kick makes kitchen work a bit more pleasant. The alternation the miniki evokes between the opposite poles of calm and dynamism is something the architects of DMAA consider a key structure underlying life events. Expressing and underscoring these two sides to life systematically in the design of architectural spaces is an elementary part of their creative credo. »When this attitude is so casually and harmoniously expressed on the product level as it is in the miniki, that’s simply ideal!« (Text: Nike Breyer)