Arno Brandlhuber‘s own country retreat Antivilla has definitely earned its name. Set near Potsdam, at lake Krampnitz, the concrete structure stands in vigorous contrast with the traditional lakeside family holiday homes. Being a popular vacation spot amongst Berlinians, and close to the old Eastern border, Antivilla brings a breath of fresh air to the already loaded neighbourhood. All of Brandlhuber’s architectural projects carry a provocative air, but now by designing for himself he had to make no compromises – well, except with the authorities and their building regulations.
Originally a GDR lingerie factory building, Brandlhuber basically started from scratch, but he went even more minimal. To create a lofty living and studio space, all non-bearing walls were removed, resulting in a single open area featuring a staircase, bathroom, kitchenette, fireplace, and sauna. The latter two originally were intended to be the sole sources of heating for wintertime. For insulation (and privacy, if required), a simple PVC curtain is responsible that can be drawn according to climate needs. Although this simple solution is sufficient to ensure heat protection – not mentioning that it is an innovative take on emergency efficiency – authorities prescribed Brandlhuber to provide a secondary back-up heating system.
Luckily, the rest of the building remained untouched by the government – but not by the architect. The anti-villa ideology was further taken with the application of shotcrete for the facade, and the collective handiwork of friends hammering down the walls to create the huge windows overlooking the peaceful landscape. The classic gable roof was also replaced by a flat cement slab. The roughness of concrete and the ‘handmade’ openings led to an outlook that is brutal and organic at the same time. This stripped-down old factory building offers an ideal and inspirational retreat for the experimental architect and his artist friends.