location: Neuastenberg, Winterberg, Germany | architecture: Third Skin Architecture by Joel Rosa | engineering & cooperation on architecture: Ing/Arch Veldhuis | photography: Steffi Rost

This residential development project, with its profusion of sloping roofs and angled forms, is an excellent example of a structure built with an individual strong sense of identity. The units are an exercise in modern functionalism that stands out from the typical ski villa signature, but which relates to its surroundings in a sympathetic and contextual way.

Villas Winterberg comprises an overall size of 3 670 square metres, on a site of 11 730 square metres, and was completed in 2017. It’s a thoughtful and sustainable project, capturing the best essences of contemporary architecture and interior design; essentially it’s both beautiful and liveable.

The brief to the architectural team was to create around 20 villas and apartments. The project was to reflect a modern / contemporary style, while the site would have direct access to the ski slopes of the authentic village of Neuastenberg (in Winterberg). The build would be located in the centre of this touristic village.

Says lead architect Joel Rosa: ‘All the villas had to be comfortable and have a layout and internal environment that would evoke well-being. Further, they were designed to add a unique look to the region of Winterberg with refreshing architecture. Large windows were a key requisite in order to provide natural light and embrace panoramic views; this to make the occupants feel more in touch with nature.’

No easy brief, but what has resulted is a splendid contemporary result. What were the major challenges of the project and how did the architects solve them?

Joel Rosa: ‘Here, we were challenged to define a clear conceptual approach, which would reunite a traditional building technique with a contemporary architecture and a dynamic language of shape.

‘Creating new constructions in existing historical or traditional environments is all about balance and symmetry – fitting in without appearing to falsely copy what came before.

‘It’s one thing to design an outstanding modern home, but quite another to formulate a contemporary modernist development that is able to synergise with a less modern neighbourhood.’

In the minds of all involved in the process, a successful contemporary design should be something that works with the materiality and scale of that which is around it, but that is also clearly understood as a new intervention.

Architecture The scheme’s geometric and material consistency was inspired by the powerful roof forms and simple materials of the existing Neuastenberg buildings. The architects utilised these geometries to bring light into terraced courtyards and permit oblique views to the landscape beyond the site from all the living areas, including from the apartment blocks to the rear.

There was another major goal here: to focus on the site and its particular conditions, as well as achieving good integration of the overall project with the surroundings. This evolved through the possibility of viewing the ski slope from each of the living areas; but also with the creation of a communal green area that transports the sense of community from the village of Neuastenberg to the interior of the project.

Adds Joel Rosa: ‘The main entrance of each villa or apartment accesses a convenient foyer area with a bench, a large closet for bulky winter coats, and hooks for hanging items to dry. This was a crucial additive, to avoid having the entrance opening directly into the living area, with not even a coat closet nearby. This might be acceptable – though far from ideal – in warm, dry climates, but it doesn’t work in places that experience a lot of snow or rain.’

What makes these villas and apartments so inviting is the sense of proportion as well as the fluid circulation that surprises with glimpses onto the spectacular exterior landscape. A more intimate experience of space is achieved through the sloped ceiling of the living area. The interior spaces feature minimalist leather furniture, artwork and designer lamps that help bring modern inspiration to what are both family and nature-friendly homes.


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