House H, Starnberg, Germany In 2013, HHF Architects built House D in Nuglar near Basel, which has since received multiple awards. Now it has a younger but bigger brother: House H in Starnberg, created in collaboration with the Munich firm of Jacob & Spreng, is a similar home for a family of five.

Project: HHF with Jacob & Spreng
Program: Private Residence
Location: Starnberg, Germany
Design and Construction: 2014 Ð 2017

Team HHF
with David Gregori y Ribes

Team Jacob & Spreng
Christoph Jacob and Bettina Spreng

Gross Floor Area: 480 m2
Client: private
Photos: Michael Christian Peters and Jonathan Sage
Award: Archilovers Best Project 2017

House H By HHF Architects - Sheet4
©Michael Christian Peters and Jonathan Sage

The shared forms, materials, and concepts characterize the degree to which the two single-family houses are related. The open ground floor of House H, like that of its predecessor, seems to blend seamlessly with the surrounding landscape. Glass and reflective facade elements made of chrome-plated steel – which provide for the necessary degree of privacy – form the almost invisible exterior enclosure of the ground-level living area.

House H By HHF Architects - Sheet6
©Michael Christian Peters and Jonathan Sage

Inspired by the property’s topography, the floor slab of the main level is conceived as a residential landscape floating above the terrain. The floor is cast of pigmented concrete and incorporates space-defining steps that accommodate height differences between the kitchen area, the dining room, and the living room. The peripheral wooden deck accentuates the floating condition as well as the link between inside and outside.

House H By HHF Architects - Sheet8
©Michael Christian Peters and Jonathan Sage

The integrated furniture and the facades are deliberately designed without a uniform species of wood: using elm for the kitchen, larch for the facade, and silver fir for the wall cladding, the best material was selected for each specific use. A maple stair with an elegant railing takes the residents to the more private rooms on the upper floor. The upper portion of the house, which is clad with rough-cut larch siding, contains three children’s rooms with a shared bathroom and the parents’ bedroom with a private bathroom.

HHF ArchitectsHHF Architects

HHF was founded in 2003 in Basel by the architects Tilo Herlach, Simon Hartmann, and Simon Frommenwiler, whose personal, academic and professional track records are resolutely global in orientation. In little more than a decade, HHF has researched and built projects in Switzerland, France, the United States, Germany, Montenegro, China, Mexico, and Inner Mongolia. And while global commissions marked by a growing lack of distinction may be our twentieth-century legacy, HHF is a different story altogether.

At ease in extremely varied contexts, the office develops projects that are the fruit of long conversations with clients of atypical ambition: a stop-over for pilgrims, a children’s park, a collectors’ storehouse, a revolutionary temple reuse in the Balkans, an observatory and insect museum on the loops of the Seine, downtown retail centers, and luxurious and appealing apartments and boutiques. Such projects are always a gamble. HHF architecture is a conciliatory practice of sorts, one that seeks to transform, not assault, that manipulates what it finds simply to change the game, and accepts the past in order to create as a springboard for continuities. It prefers paradigm shifts to throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and it keeps an open mind regardless of what happens, and what people want. In brief, it is not about empty gestures but about a strong attitude. Passage is the narrative thread in HHF’s projects. Everything proceeds from the sequence to be lived or traveled. Each project is a tool to amplify what is there — a landscape, situation, or feeling — and thereby transform whoever it touches.

«HHF — Unfinished», the title of the second monograph of HHF, underscores the suspended character of any architectural venture: suspended in time, momentarily beyond the pedestrian stroll, beyond what was or will be, and hence wide open. This constructive approach is rooted in the observation of whatever is present and available
(seek a resource, of whatever sort!). It is this notion of economy so essential to architecture, which is read here as an imperative of relevance. Respond to a problem in the most pertinent way. Proceed by borrowing, adding, subtracting, or preserving, in order to make the most of whatever is at hand. Do the least possible for minimum impact and optimal effect. Reuse. Produce tailor-made solutions only when the market has nothing else appropriate to offer. These maxims, the building bricks of HHF, are manifest in its Lichtstrasse project, winner of the Swiss Architecture Award 2015. They are evident likewise in HHF’s capacity to superimpose various scales in order to reconfigure terrains and connect the smallest to the largest element, the infrastructure to the superstructure.

HHF thus keeps dialog flowing—with architects and students, and with artists such as Ai Weiwei, who has been a friend and ally almost from the start. And it practices architecture like a never-ending game of ping-pong with its peers. Some claim architecture is a combat sport whereas HHF sees it more as an exercise in suppleness: a sweeping bow to the present day. HHF Architekten ETH SIA BSA Allschwilerstrasse 71 A
CH-4055 Bâle, Suisse
T +41 61 756 70 10
[email protected]

Tilo Herlach
1972 born in Zurich, Switzerland
1992–1998 studies at ETH Zurich and ETH Lausanne
1998–2003 collaboration with d-company and Rolf Furrer Architekten
2003 founding HHF Architects
Since 2006 Member of the Board for Urban Planning and Architecture, SIA Basel
2007 member of the Berlin Chamber of Architects
Since 2010 BSA member
2011 Visiting Professor at the University of Innsbruck
Since 2015 permanent member of the Berlin Chamber of Architects
Since 2018 Visiting Professor at Harvard Graduate School of Design Simon Hartmann
1974 born in Bern, Switzerland
1994–2000 studies at ETH Lausanne, TU Berlin and ETH Zurich
2000–2003 collaboration with Rolf Furrer Architekten
2002–2007 Teaching Assistant ETH Studio Basel
2003 founding of HHF Architects
2009–2017 Professor at HEIA Fribourg
Since 2010 BSA member
2011 Visiting Professor at the University of Innsbruck
2014 Visiting Professor at the Karlsruhe institute of Technology KIT
Since 2018 Visiting Professor at Yale School of Architecture and at Harvard Graduate School of Design Simon Frommenwiler
1972 born in London, UK
1994–2000 studies at ETH Zurich
1997–2003 collaborations with Bearth & Deplazes and Skidmore Owings & Merrill
2003 founding of HHF Architects
2005–2007 Teaching Assistant at ETH Lausanne
Since 2010 BSA member | 2011 Guest Professor at the Joint Master of Architecture, Fribourg 2011–2013 Visiting Professor at ENSA Strasbourg
2013–2018 Associate Professor at ENSA Strasbourg
2014 Lecturer of Architecture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology | Since 2016 Chairman of Bund Schweizer Architekten BSA Basel
Since 2018 Visiting Professor at Harvard Graduate School of Design


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