Tuesday, 20 March 2018 11:33

Design studio Penda shows how its rooftop terrace is helping one family live life off-grid

    Austrian design studio Penda is working on a design for a small house in the countryside of Germany that connects living and working in a harmonious way. As the plot is so small, Penda is transforming the roof of the building into an ascending garden to secure a path to food-independency for the owners.

    The Yin & Yang house is designed for a small family that wants a life off-grid – independent and self-sufficient. Because the lawn on the plot is not large enough, Penda integrated gardening planters for vegetables, herbs and fruits on the roof.

    The house is shaped by two separate entities that are connected in a harmonious way with a green roof. Similar to a Yin & Yang sign, the two main areas of the house are intertwined. One half for living, the other half for working. The two roof sides are shaped like mountains from the ground to their highest points and surround the garden like a valley in between them. The ascending roof channels rainwater to the ground where it is stored and reused on dry days to water the plants.

    When architecture supports the way we grow our food, a house becomes more than just a building. It attracts all your senses. Nature makes the house visually appealing because it changes its look according to the seasons. Natural materials make it haptic.You can hear your house, because different animals like bees or birds become part of daily life. It has its own natural scent, based on the plants growing on the roof. And in a way you are able to eat part of the house. This sensible architecture creates a special bond to the building and it creates a personal relationship.

    A house that lives and grows

    The living roof is not just a tool for living an autarkic lifestyle, but also a design element. Mother nature is a patient sculptress and will transform the house over time. Depending on the season, the house will bloom in different colours and different scents. From vibrant colours in spring to a white snow-field in winter, the house changes over time and transforms itself in harmony to its surroundings.

    A house that supports real food

    After decades of unsustainable food production and food supply by industrial agriculture, we are slowly learning about the costs of health for our bodies, wellbeing and the biosphere caused by this system. The key for an ecological foodcycle is to grow and eat local products.

    A house to work globally in a rural area

    The house is conceptualised for a young family that would like to live and work on the countryside. Rural areas around our globe are trying to find strategies of how to attract young people. Forecasts show that cities and urban areas attract young people. By 2050, more than 70% of our population will live in cities. Architects are called upon to find solutions how to revive the countryside.

    “I do think one step is to integrate the quality of life on the countryside into the building. We millennials are a very fortunate generation.

    “We have the opportunity to live a more flexible lifestyle than previous generations. Through technology and cheap airfare, our world got more connected and we are able to live off the beaten track but work on a global scale. My wife and I are living in the mountains of Austria, but work on projects worldwide and are able to enjoy the benefits of both worlds. The Yin & Yang house is designed for a family with a similar lifestyle and mindset,” explains Chris Precht, Founding Partner of Penda.

    The Yin & Yang house was exhibited at the Documenta in Kassel and part of an effort from architects to work on small houses to revive the region of Edersee and bring back a young generation of creatives to the countryside.

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