Antivilla BY Arno Brandlhuber


Potsdam, Germany

The Antivilla is rough, rough as only the cement can be, enhanced by a gray and cold color. And it rests on the shores of Lake Krampnitz, near Berlin. Here is his story. Ernst Luck this was the name of the lingerie factory built in the 60s, in a privileged position, that is one of the most beautiful bays that overlook the lake near Potsdam, on the immediate outskirts of Berlin. The state enterprise consisted of two long buildings of three floors each and was one of the many unintentionally surreal places in the DDR: an underwear factory that overlooked a nudist beach. After the fall of the Wall, the company was liquidated, while the buildings remained empty. Some speculators bought the land to demolish the factory and build individual villas. But due to lack of funds the land remained untouched until 2012, when the architect Arno Brandlhuber bought the entire building area, redesigning the space with Markus Emde, Burlon Architects and Pichler Engineering: an important recovery work for transform it into the studio / atelier of the artist Björn Dahlem and a 250 square meter floor, destined to be a meeting place for artists. And deciding to leave the soul untouched: “I did not want to build anything new and I tried to keep, as far as possible, the original structure of the factory,” says the designer. The gable roof, made of corrugated asbestos sheets, has been removed and replaced with a flat concrete terrace, which functions structurally like a large beam. Completed by an oversize gutter that flows out of the building, as if it were a figurehead, but without any ornamental ambition. And after reinforcing the structure with sprayed concrete, which also replaces the classic insulation systems, has removed any non-load-bearing wall inside to make room for a central core about 20 meters long that extends on both sides and contains the kitchen, the bathroom, the bedroom, a fireplace and a sauna, which, explains the architect, «alone are able to heat the house». Even if at a later time, to be able to obtain the habitability permits, he had to install an additional floor heating, as a right compromise. The different spaces of the core are then isolated, depending on the needs and the seasons, by large translucent PVC curtains that keep the heat inside them, preventing their dispersion. The windows, one different from the other, tell a story, continues the designer: “During the construction of the factory, the window frames had been a testing ground for some builders: every window had been laid by a different worker. Almost like a field of architectural experimentation “. Particularity clearly visible even in today’s structure. But what is striking is on the upper floor: like two big eyes there are irregular gaps in the wall, widened with a hammer in a sort of happening organized with friends. Two breaches that completely open the living room to the view of the lake, as if there were no connection between the inside and the outside. «The facade does not reflect an aesthetic choice: it must be read as a social manifesto», Brandlhuber had declared in an interview with Arch +, «The segregating model of the modern city is reflected in the facades of classic houses that isolate the inhabitants».