WHAT IS A HOUSE FOR住宅所为何

Bruther: So far in our practice, we have never had the occasion to build a house, which renders our relationship with the question „what is a house for?” quite peculiar. Day to day, we work and live in a dense urban situation, which we like and enjoy, but it means the idea of being at home, is not such a strong one. It’s probably for this reason, that for us, a house is more of a refuge and certainly an intentional precise experience that we consciously decide to enter into. This is especially true during holidays. In reality, we expect a house to give us a break from all our normal relationships with the world. Having said this, however strange and different they are, we allow these experiences to strongly influence us, and the way we design, and find they bring new inspiration to many things. 

Two years ago, we were invited to the architectural biennale in São Paulo. Afterwards, a few days before leaving, we decided to take some holidays in Brazil and started searching for accommodation outside of the city. By chance, we found a surprising house. On the spot, we all agreed to rent a car and travel through the countryside to reach it. At that point we didn’t know it was a house designed by Paulo Mendes da Rocha. We only discovered this later, shortly before arriving. 

The seven days we spent in Casa Gerber were fantastic because you could just leave the room and jump into the sea, and directly feel the sun, even the wind on your skin. In fact, we are much more interested in the way you can live there and enjoy all the pleasures the house has to offer, rather than consider its academic or professional value. 

In northern Europe, the only moment you can really live outside is during the summer, while in Brazil, the temperature is stable and pretty much constant throughout the whole year. Since the climatic conditions are so different, the architectural devices can become very simple. Suddenly everything becomes so thin: single panes of frameless glass and very simple roofs hovering overhead. 

I’m sure that this is the biggest difference, as I find that culturally, we are very similar. We are both fascinated in reducing the means needed to produce buildings. That’s what we like, at least what we try to achieve - not to bring sophisticated reflections or theoretical approaches but mostly to be pragmatic, to keep in sight a simple way of being and create through architecture, the basic conditions necessary for life. 

In our office we invent solutions to make transitions between inside and outside spontaneous - in a European context. We have become obsessed with windows, not so much for the sake of transparency, rather more as devices that allow different relationships between interior and exterior. The fact that thanks to a mechanism called a window, you can be suddenly and without effort outside, excites us enormously. 

THE FEELING OF TOTAL VISUAL AND PHYSICAL TRANSPARENCY IS VERY PRESENT ON THE MAIN FLOOR OF CASA GERBER. ON THE CONTRARY, THE UNDERGROUND ELONGATED ROOM HAS A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT CHARACTER, WHAT IS IT EXACTLY? 

It’s a really ambiguous and interesting space, but we never spent more than half an hour there. We just passed through it to reach the beach. Sometimes my daughter played there. For me it was maybe too dark. The rock has a really fantastic presence in this narrow room full of beautiful furniture. It’s a place of solitude, where you could write a book or sit in silence, since you have a very limited visual relation both with the outside and the rest of the house. I like it more as an image than as a space. 

PAULO MENDES DA ROCHA HAS SAID MANY TIMES THAT HE ALWAYS THINKS OF SPACE AS PUBLIC, EVEN IF IT IS A PRIVATE HOUSE. WHAT IS PUBLIC ABOUT THIS PARTICULAR HOUSE?

In Casa Gerber life revolves around the big table which I would say is the main protagonist. It produces a very collective moment in a very profound way. You feel at ease. Above, the ceiling is broad, flat, and connects the table to the horizon and your surroundings. You don’t see and are not troubled by any thoughts of science or structure and consequently you never really feel the spans or the challenges the house deals with. 

The welcoming character of the house is evident, in a very different way to, for example, Can Lis by Utzon. There, when you are in this beautiful room with the solid sofa overlooking the sea, you feel very good, but you cannot open the windows, and it remains just “a beautiful space”, comfortable but very staged. In contrast, many possibilities exist within Casa Gerber. Nothing is fixed, and by opening all the windows, your living room suddenly expands and merges with the outside. You have a feeling of going back to primordial times when space was exclusively public. 

To be honest, we are not so interested in domesticity and don’t really believe in human scale either. What is important, is the memory we have of swimming in the sea, close to the house, when nature appeared powerful and spatially luxurious and the perception of everything was equally huge and infinite. That was a really fantastic feeling. 

We find it particularly inspiring to design something that is not supposed to be a house and then just inhabit it afterwards. Very often this attitude produces amazing spaces. The imperative of domesticity and human scale is often linked to a certain “smallness”. It is the exact lack of this notion that we like in Casa Gerber. You can remove all the furniture and everything that has a direct relation to your body, until the space is defined by just four pillars, the roof, and the landscape. What happens under the roof immediately becomes a real playground. Somehow even the arrangement of rooms is not so important. All these decisions came after the first act. One of the questions that we had after arriving was: why are the bedrooms arranged towards the most exposed side of the house? On reflection we realised that it didn’t matter, you can reorganise the space as you wish, for its basic qualities will always remain and don’t rely on such specific decisions. 

YOU MENTION THE PARADOXICAL LAYOUT WHERE TOILETS AND BEDROOMS FACE THE BEST VIEW - MAYBE THIS HOUSE IS NOT ABOUT THE VIEW, BUT FOCUSES MORE ON ANOTHER TYPE OF INTIMATE RELATION WITH THE SURROUNDINGS, WHAT DO YOU THINK? 

I agree that the view is perhaps not the most important factor, but this does not mean the presence of the landscape is not felt. It’s a project about catching the landscape that surrounds you. The depth of field, however, is interesting, emphasised by the fact that the roof cantilevers over the window line. The fact that the landscape is sometimes really close and sometimes really far away brings a great dynamism to the spatial experience. In the bedrooms the relationship is very frontal, and without the depth created by intermediate elements, the landscape becomes an abstract screen. On the other side it’s exactly the opposite, as you always have an element, a rock, or a tree, which produce an intermediate scale. The layering of the landscape is very rich, and you really see it! 

HOW DO YOU FEEL BETWEEN THE FOUR PILLARS? 

You know, sometimes we forget how we were as kids, and this is really a space for children! You can touch the pillars, you can turn around them, you can bend things between them. You feel something quite beautiful. I saw my children playing around them and I really liked the way they used them. Like the project by Aldo van Eyck with a column and a circle drawn on the ground. The children run around this column. It’s exactly the same kind of situation in Casa Gerber, the columns stop being structural elements and become the centre of a game.

19.11.2020

布鲁瑟: 在实践中,我们从来没有机会去建造一个住宅,这使我们与“住宅所为何”这个问题的关系变得非常独特。日复一日,我们在密集的城市环境中工作和生活,我们享受这个状态,但也意味着呆在家里的想法并不是非常强烈的。可能正是因为这个原因,住宅对我们来说更像是一个避难所,当然也是我们有意识地决定进入的一种精确体验。这在节假日期间尤其如此。在现实中,我们期望住宅能让我们从与世界的日常联系中脱离,休息片刻。说到这里,无论它们多么奇怪和不同,我们允许这些经验强烈地影响我们和我们的设计方式,并发现它们为许多事情带来新的灵感。

两年前,我们被邀请参加圣保罗建筑双年展(São Paulo Architecture Biennial )。之后,在离开的前几天,我们决定在巴西度假,并开始寻找城市以外的住宿。一个偶然的机会,我们意外地发现了一个令人惊奇的房子。在场的所有人都同意租一辆车,穿过乡野去看看。后来在我们到达前才发现那是保罗·门德斯·达·洛查设计的房子。

我们在格伯住宅( Casa Gerber )度过的七天非常美妙,因为你可以直接离开房子,跳进海里,感受阳光的直晒,甚至能感受到皮肤上拂过的风。事实上,我们更感兴趣的是人们可以在那里生活,享受房子所提供的所有乐趣,而不是考虑它的学术或专业价值。

在北欧,只有在夏天你才能真正使用室外的生活空间,而在巴西,温度稳定,全年基本不变。这两个地方的气候条件是如此不同,因此建筑可以变得非常简单。瞬间所有的东西都变得很薄:人们可以使用单层的无框玻璃,头顶上是非常简单的屋顶。

我相信这是最大的不同,因为我发现这两个地方在文化上真的很相似。我们都着迷于减少建筑创作的意义。这就是我们所喜欢的,至少是试图实现的——不是用复杂的思考或理论方法,而是要更务实,用最简单的生活方式和生活所需的基本条件来做建筑创作上的判断。

在欧洲的语境下,我们在办公室里发明了一种可以让内外空间发生无意识过渡的解决方案。我们已经迷上了窗户,并不完全是为了空间的透明性,而是想让室内室外之间产生更丰富的空间层次。感谢这个叫做窗户的机械装置,你可以不费吹灰之力就到达外面,找到这个简单的处理方式让我们异常兴奋。

在格伯住宅的主楼层充满了完整的视野带来的全景感和空间在物理上的透明感。相反地,地下室是一个细长的空间,为什么这两个部分会有这么不同的特征?

这是一个非常暧昧和有趣的空间,但我们从来没有在那里呆上超过半小时的时间。我们只是通过它来到达海滩。有时我女儿在那里玩,但对我来说那里可能太暗了。岩石在这个狭窄的房间里是一个非常奇妙的存在,里面还放置着一些漂亮家具。这个空间很孤独,在那里你可以写一本书或静静地坐着,因为你与外面和房子的其他部分有着非常有限的视觉连接。我想,它作为一个图像而不是作为一个空间的状态更迷人。

保罗客门德斯客达客洛查说过很多次,他总是认为任何空间都是公共的,即使它是一个私人住宅。这个特别的房子的公共性是什么?

在格伯住宅,生活的场景围绕着大桌子展开,我想说,它是整个空间的主角。它以一种有意义的方式形成了一个非常集中的状态。在这里,人是很自在的。宽的、水平的天花板,把桌子,地平线和周围的一切都连了起来。你看不到,也不会被任何技术上的或者是结构上的东西所打扰,在这个空间,你不会感觉到这所房子在结构上所做的挑战。

这座房子有着它显而易见的热情,欢迎的姿态,与约翰·伍重(Jørn Utzon) 的海景别墅(Can Lis,Mallorca) 截然不同。在这个美丽的房间里坐在砌制的沙发上俯瞰大海时,你会感觉非常好,但你不能打开窗户,它只是 “一个美丽的空间”,舒适但有强烈的舞台感。相比之下,格伯住宅提供了空间使用上的许多可能性。没有什么是固定的,通过打开所有的窗户,客厅的空间可以瞬间变大与外面融合在一起。你有一种回到原始时代的感觉,那个时期的空间是完全公共的。

说实话,我们并没有对家庭生活感兴趣,也不太相信人的尺度在建筑上的意义。重要的是建筑给我们留下的记忆片段:我们在大海里游泳的记忆。那时候离房子很近,大自然显得非常强大和空间上的丰富,我们对一切的感知也是同样巨大和无穷的。那是一种奇妙的感受。

我们发现设计一些不应当成为住宅的空间,后续却为居住使用,这件事情特别的具有启发性。很多时候这种想法会产生意想不到的空间。家庭生活的日常性和人的尺度往往与某种 “小 “有关。我们喜欢格伯住宅,正是因为它缺乏这种概念。你可以忽略掉所有的家具和与身体有关的任何事物,直到空间只由四个支柱、屋顶和景观来定义。屋顶下发生的一切立即成为一个真正的游乐场。屋顶下房间的排布方式也没有那么重要了。所有房间设计都是在这个大秩序之下的。我们在到达房子之后提出过一个问题:为什么卧室被设计在房子最公共的一侧?后来我们意识到这并不重要,人们可以按照自己的意愿重新组织空间,因为它的最基本的空间氛围是已经被定义的,这个层次下的变化不会干扰到主体。

你提到了房子里矛盾的布局,厕所和卧室面对最好的风景—也许这个房子不是关于风景的,而是更注重与周围环境的亲密关系,你怎么看? 

我同意,取景也许不是最重要的因素,但这并不意味着感觉不到景观的存在。这个房子是去捕捉周围风景的。水平窗上的屋顶挑檐强调了人们的视野范围。事实上,景观有时真的很近,有时真的很远,这种丰富尺度的景观给空间体验带来了巨大的活力。在卧室里,和景观的关系是非常正面的,没有中间元素所创造的深度,景观成为一个抽象的幕布。在另一边则完全相反,是由一个物体,一块石头,或一棵树形成的一个中间尺度的景观。你真的可以捕捉到这些丰富的景观分层!

你在四个支柱之间有什么感受?

你知道,有时候我们会丢失小时候的一些记忆,而这确实是一个为孩子们准备的空间! 你可以触摸这些柱子,也可以绕着它们转,甚至可以用这些柱子弯折东西。你会捕捉到一些相当美丽的东西在这四根柱子上。我看到我的孩子们在它们周围玩耍,我非常喜欢他们使用它们的方式。就像阿尔多·范·艾克(Aldo van Eyck)的项目,一个柱子和一个画在地上的圆,孩子们可以绕着这个柱子跑。在格伯住宅中也是这种情况,柱子不再是结构元素,而是成为游戏的中心

20201119

Bruther

Founded in 2007 in Paris by Stéphanie Bru and Alexandre Theriot, Bruther works in the fields of architecture, research, education, urbanism and landscape. Bruther aims “to understand and to accept conceptual and constructive needs but also to be able to back down and unexpectedly encounter new experimentation and research areas. Our projects suggest a delicate balance between strategy and form, rigour and freedom, specific and generic, immediacy and evolutivity. Considering the programme in its future, our projects stand for open infrastructures that fit an abundance of context possibilities and a wide malleability of uses”.

Before receiving the Swiss Architectural Award 2020, Bruther was awarded the Prix de l’Equerre d’argent 2016 (for the New Generation Research Centre, Caen), the Gold Award, Best Architects Awards 2016 (for the Cultural and Sports Centre Saint-Blaise, Paris) and nominated in 2015 for the Mies van der Rohe Award (for the Cultural and Sports Centre Saint-Blaise, Paris). Stephanie Bru and Alexandre Theriot have lectured at various architecture schools worldwide, as Associate Professor of Architecture & Design. Alexandre Theriot is actually a Professor in the Department of Architecture, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich), Switzerland.

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