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Villa Bie by MLRP: Stunning Form Play

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on December 02, 2015 at 01:33 PM

As architects, we grapple with site constraints and restrictions imposed by the local building regulations in every project. We refer to previous projects and look at how things have been built in the area to understand the local context of our design. Sometimes we do think up innovative ways to work around the regulations and constraints, but seldom do we see them turned around on their head! However, Danish-American architectural firm MLRP made the local context the basis for a stunningly imaginative solution. This villa in an area in Denmark had some fairly restrictive governing regulations, purposed to preserve local heritage; while the client wanted a unique design - and here’s what they got!

© Courtesy of internet resources

Appearing as an oversized cuboidal box lying lopsided on the lawns by the sea-shore there’s no denying Villa Bie’s eye catching contrariness. If buildings grew organically from the earth as trees, then this would seem like one of those freaky ones which grew along the ground like a creeper, instead of growing upright. ‘A slab growing out of the earth at an angle’ is how the architects themselves describe the structure.

The local planning authorities in this area of Denmark, north of Copenhagen, had laid out strict regulations. This was probably done to promote and preserve traditional forms and heritage, but it required every structure to have a gabled roof and was allowed only one-and-a-half floors. But, the client wanted something unique.

Delving into some form play in basic design during team discussions seems to have paid off for this project of MLRP. It is, otherwise, difficult imagine the genesis of this radical reinterpretation of the traditional Danish house. The gable is there, though you don’t see it, as one of its slopes continues downward as an angular wall till it meets the earth. The other slope of this gable turns a sharp 90’ to create a wall parallel to the one mentioned before to complete the cuboidal effect. The structure accommodates precisely one-and-a-half floors of built space to achieve a stunning, sculptural paraphrase of what might have been as per the rules, without breaking the rules.

Villa Bie sports some exceptionally large openings and glazed surfaces that establish an unrestricted visual contact between land and sea. It opens onto the road with a wide foyer approached by a broad stairway. Standing on a concrete foundation, the super structure is clad in 650 sq m of Accoya wood. The overall treatment and detailing is minimalist to the point of being bare, almost laying starkly bare the quintessential ingenuity of the simple design solution.

The MLRP team comprising Robert W. Paulsen, Mads H. Lund, Sara G. Camre, Ana Brkljacic, Sara Marie Malmros, and Joana Pimenta have shown with Villa Bie how a simple change in perspective can entirely alter a form and present a radically different visual image while maintaining the same inner volumes. 

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