We first encountered the brutalist Antivilla several years ago, yet it’s only now that we have decided to celebrate it—admittedly long overdue. German architects Brandlhuber+ refurbished an abandoned undergarment factory from the Cold War era into an elegant yet brutal home located on the waterfront of Lake Krampnitz, Germany for architect Arno Brandlhuber.

The renovation of the Ernst Lück lingerie factory is not a mere physical upgrade of the outer shell. Instead, it questions the mandatory standards in current building regulations by proposing a new understanding of architecture and the environment. Brandlhuber began construction on the property in 2010, and instead of total demolition, decided to keep the original concrete facade, which he explains was “simply sealed using grey lime sludge”.

The gable roof, which contained asbestos, was removed and replaced with a newly designed one. All non-load bearing partitions were removed and replaced with a central concrete core to support this new roof. The core, containing a bathroom, kitchen, and spaces for a sauna and fireplace, was inserted on the second floor. The adjoining maintenance stairway gives access to the roof via a hydraulic roof hatch. The new roof, constructed with a 2% slope and water-resistant concrete, is supported by the core and a continuous beam, which allows for up to five-meter-wide openings in the existing walls. These large openings express the physical presence of the existing structure.

One of Antivilla’s most impressive features is its fractured windows. Inspired by Claude Faraldo’s experimental film, Themroc (1973), large holes were punched into the walls facing the lake and forest, replacing the existing windows on that facade, to gain maximum openness and exposure to the landscape. Brandlhuber explains:

To celebrate this, a mobile kitchen was set up and friends were invited to the construction site to collectively punch out holes for the windows.

As for the interior space, this is characterised by the monochromatic surfaces. The traces of the old building remain in its new iteration, visible in the varying shades of grey and textures. The building is not insulated, except for the new roof, which contains a layer of insulation, so it might not be the cosiest of dwellings, although underfloor heating has been fitted throughout.

Aesthetically, Antivilla is a remarkable and raw design, which has been cleverly and beautifully restored.

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