Habitat Andergassen Urthaler

On a hillside in South Tyrol, Italy, a new brutalist structure monumentally resides, overlooking the Eisack Valley. Designed by architect Andreas Gruber, this three-storey house is a porous volume that creates a break to the landscape’s continuity. Although the contrast is apparent at the moment, this minimalist design is a harmonisation between manmade infrastructure and natural conditions through the architect’s vision.

The exterior is composed of a spongy variety of concrete called Dämmbeton, which creates air pockets for thermal conduction, as well as provides aggregated homes for moss to grow on overtime; hence decreasing the aforementioned contrast. With a modest footprint, the dwelling integrates itself into the sloped site by embracing the hill with its form. By having multiple openings, some cladded with wooden frames, the house is comprised of moments where the inhabitants can visually connect with the beautiful mountainous sceneries. These views replace any interior decorations or paintings and their scales create an illusion that encapsulates one’s spiritual communication. These openings also make use of the 60-centimetre-thick walls to create interstitial spaces for passive activities or even storages for household objects.

When looking at the spatial conditions of this house, I can almost immerse myself directly into its environmental quality. Perhaps it’s the openness that this project gives to me, or perhaps it’s the zen-like reminders of undulating landscape. Whatever it is, this is truly the kind of minimal luxury that is often overlooked and forgotten.