- Gustav Willeit
In the Austrian countryside a decidedly modern farmhouse is enhanced by traditional elements. Villa B is a two-storey home that feels perfectly settled against the idyllic fields and mountains of its locale. Villa B was designed by Bergmeisterwolf, an architectural office based in Italy.
Surrounded by sprawling farms and patches of woods, the form of Villa B draws from traditional farmhouse architecture. Dotted across the countryside, farmhouses typically side with the form follows function mentality; in short, they are practical dwellings suited for housing those who work on the land. Simple design features such as sloped roofs protect the homes from falling rain and snow. Wood cladding most often covers the exterior walls: a no-nonsense material that is readily available in rural settings. The farmhouse we know today may have humble beginnings, but its characteristic form continues to be relevant for regional architecture.
Like its traditional counterparts, Villa B is immediately recognisable as a farmhouse. The defining feature of the exterior is the A-frame roof. The difference between Villa B and its neighbours, however, is that Villa B’s roof does not simply fold in half one time. Instead, the roof structure is comprised of a series of well-placed folds, each delineating an area of the facade. On one side, the roof rises tall to form a grand, two-storey facade that draws guests in from the main road. On the back side, the roof slopes down and then up again, forming openings for covered terraces. A soft grey plaster covers the exterior walls. Plaster is a timeless material that works particularly well in modern applications. The smooth material enhances the architecture of the building, allowing the design of the structure to take centre stage. In Villa B, the subtle colour of the plaster brings out the green of the adjacent fields while drawing comparisons to the looming grey shapes of the mountains on the horizon. In a final nod to tradition, thin stripes of wood siding accent the facade.
While the exterior of Villa B retains traditional farmhouse elements, the interior flips tradition on its head. Almost a direct opposite to the roof design, the ceiling drops and withdraws based on the plan of the level above. This defines the proportions of the rooms on the lower level, alternating between cozy and lofty. The floor plan is organised around the central staircase—a gorgeous form comprised of the same light wood that is found on the floors throughout. Touches of plaster and weathered wood on the walls continue the material story from the exterior. Oversized windows—in no specific pattern of shapes—draw attention to the home’s surroundings. When the shutters are open, sweeping views of the mountains and fields blend into the muted tones of the interior.
Tradition runs strong in much of regional architecture. Tasked with a modern structure, it is the architect’s choice as to how best to acknowledge the design elements that built our modern world. Villa B acknowledges its past beautifully, and the design is better for it.