Houzz Tour: Industrial Materials Marry Residential Design
Corrugated sheet metal siding? Polycarbonate sheeting? These aren't the materials you'd expect to find in a family home
They could have built a home with a flat roof, but then the house would have looked out of place in its environment. So, the architects explored other ways to save and eventually found the answer in industrial construction, which has the lowest costs per square foot. With a lot of brain work and some unexpected materials like polycarbonate and corrugated sheet metal, they created a three-section house entirely within budget for pure construction costs.
House at a Glance
Who lives here: A family with one child
Location: Pirna, near Dresden, Germany
Size: About 180 square meters (about1,940 square feet)
Architects: Büro für Bauform
This home comprises three gabled sections standing side-by-side, each rising to a different height and featuring an eye-catching facade. The section on the left and the garage on the right are covered in a rainscreen made of corrugated sheet metal. The walls and roof of the central section of the house, which hosts the living room, are polycarbonate, making it look like a sunroom. A wooden structure supports the about 2⅓-inch-thick (60-millimetre-thick) sheets, which are fixed in place with thermally broken frames – that is, frames in which thermally non-conductive material separates the indoor and outdoor parts to stop heat from escaping.
Polycarbonate is a relatively cheap material often used for building industrial warehouses. “The sheets are very light. We fastened them with wind anchors to prevent them from being blown away, even in strong winds,” says Jürgen Lehmeier, one of the architects on the project.
If there is enough sun, the air warms up to a comfortable temperature even in winter, while in summer roof windows installed on the north side ensure it doesn’t get too hot. The windows are equipped with a temperature sensor and open automatically when ventilation is needed. Thanks to a rain and wind monitor, they close on their own when it starts to rain or the wind is too strong. “Even in the technical aspects, we went for high comfort at low costs,” Lehmeier says.
The garage is nestled to one side of the sunroom and is the lowest and longest part of the building. The garage door is covered in polycarbonate sheets. “At first, we wanted to install skylights into the corrugated sheet metal, but we found we didn’t like it that much. To let daylight into the garage, we chose a customisable standard garage door and mounted polycarbonate sheets onto it, so we immediately had insulation,” the architect says. In addition, this allowed them to save even more on cost.
At the end of the entryway, in the garage section, is the guest bathroom.
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The stairs leads to the landing and, from there, to the children’s room, the guest room and the adjoining bathroom, all of which are in the next section – in the highest but narrowest part of the house.
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As with many industrial buildings, the floor slab in this house is in fact the finished floor. So, they placed insulation inside the outer formwork to protect the slab. “Using cables, string and paint, we made markings for the placement of the walls and all the plumbing. It took a lot of persuasion to bring in the workmen in charge of these features because they normally only come to a construction site when the walls of the house are already up,” Lehmeier says.
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The builders glued artificial turf onto the back wall of the platform to create an opaque privacy screen.
“We tried our hand at a lot of things that are actually only done in industrial construction, a form of construction in which people have little aspiration to aesthetics,” Lehmeier says. “Architects have to learn to transfer these methods over in an aesthetic way, to make housing construction cheaper.”
The north side of the ground floor has windows. So, the laundry room, utility room and guest bathroom, all of which are in the garage section, get daylight.
The box we saw in the sunroom serves as a library on the second floor. The ceilings of the two bedrooms open all the way up to the roof level. The bathroom (between the two rooms) has a dropped ceiling that provides additional storage space.
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