What does living mean for…

Stefan Behnisch, Stefan Rappold, Robert Hösle, Robert Matthew Noblett

Stefan Behnisch

„Of all the planning tasks, residential projects pose the most difficult challenge. The ideas of the client are too individual, the opinions too personal. The only reason that residential construction is not doomed to fail - when based on speculation, on something that is much too human and impossible to grasp, that is perceived using norms and standards - is because there is no alternative.

In contrast to this, the number of those who are able to build individually, for themselves, typically in the form of a single family home and seldom in the form of a joint effort as a housing cooperative, is negligibly small.

We are currently working on three such individual houses. It is the most personal kind of project for us as architects and the bond with the client is more intense than with other projects. It is not business, it is something personal. For this reason, my wife Petra and I decided not to plan our own house, not even at our own office, but with a former employee. This was done precisely to avoid mixing the personal with the professional; to have available an architectural partner who can move the project forward; and to avoid, as some of our colleagues have done, the act of performing a self-experiment.“

Stefan Rappold

„Our built environment is often characterized by a great degree of uniformity. A compromise at the end of the planning process is frequently perceived as a good and satisfactory result. Different approaches, opinions and sensibilities can often only be suitably taken into account in this way. The apartment, a private living space and place of retreat is characterized much less by such specifications; most of the time. With a certain amount of openness, living environments can in the majority of cases be designed more individually; furnished and fitted in a way that does not so much seek to fulfil a “corporate design”.

Such an individualized apartment design does not always meet with the approval of visitors and guests. And why should it, considering how different the preferences and sensitivities of each individual are. 
Private living space is often described as being too extravagant or too eccentric, but sometimes also as too unimaginative.

A by all means fascinating task for the design of a “tailor-made suit”. In this way, individuality could be the basic requirement for a high quality dialogue between architects and clients. “

Robert Hösle

„For me, living means being at home. Home is the place where I can retreat, where my family lives and where I feel comfortable. That has to do with familiarity, security, comfort and warmth. Also with light, green areas and spatial proportions. And really important – it depends on the small personal details. However, each one of us perceives this differently and individually. Sometimes we accept a living space as we find it, as planned, at other times it is actively conquered and turned into a living space. The greatest bonus is that one can express one’s wishes and be involved in the planning from the very beginning.

Wouldn’t it be good if we could design apartments or even buildings in such a way that the space we want to live in can be planned according to our own desires? Perfectly aligned, adaptable in terms of size, with a flexible façade design, as well as with the possibility to change it individually until one feels comfortable? Less of a design object but instead designed with a structural approach. The ability for an apartment or house to “take shape” should be taken into account in the design and we should try to ensure that it is able to accommodate the habits and requirements of its residents, which change over the years.

In this way, every home is given its own appearance and its own history in a very diverse way.“

Robert Matthew Noblett

“For me, living is about being engaged with the city, and trying to understand what makes urban spaces exhilarating, what makes them dreadful, and what makes them everything in between. Often, the quality of space in our contemporary built environment is better defined by what it is not - not a cheesy stripmall, not a hollow suburban office park, not a soulless waterfront condominium development.  But what do we WANT to be as a building culture?  When will we begin to develop 
new spaces for inhabitation that rival the most successful spaces of our collective architectural heritage?  Can even our most basic urban endeavors be elevated in some way to the level of the inspiring?”