Show of hands, those of you who have dreamt of living in a (seemingly) rundown, ramshackle house? Nobody? That's what we thought. But we'd bet you the Queen's gold if you don't change your mind once you see the house we're exploring today. We are legitimately blown away by the creativity and style seen in this once abandoned house that has now been turned into a fully-functional and stunning villa.
Designed by the brilliant Arno Brandlhuber, who also happens to own the place, the house was once a German underwear factory that occupies 5,500 square metres of space in the lovely little town of Potsdam near Berlin. The house is a reflection of Brandlhuber's own aesthetic—minimalist, sustainable and cost-effective. He bought the home in 2012 to turn it into his weekend retreat and apart from the windows (which we'll come to soon enough!), didn't make too many structural changes to the facade.
The house lives up to its name—Antivilla—in that it doesn't stick to the tried and tested rules of villa architecture. Instead Brandlhuber has created a piece of art that is a stroke of pure genius.
Don't be alarmed, those are not bombed-out windows. That is actually the handiwork of Brandlhuber and his buddies who one fine day took a sledgehammer and carved out these windows—so that the house would have great views of the lake. Brandlhuber then simply glued on glass frames on the inside to create functional windows. The facade's grey concrete, as can be seen, has been retained giving it an almost haunted house vibe!
The Antivilla definitely sticks out, especially considering it is in a neighbourhood lined with modest and mostly homogeneous houses. But anything less wouldn't be Brandlhuber's style.
Surprised? We were too. When your first impression of the house is a provocative grey facade, you hardly expect to walk in and be confronted by what can be very loosely termed as… romantic. Yet, that's what it is.
A steep set of stairs from the entry takes you up here—an open space that has no pillars, no walls or beams blocking it. The whole area is dominated by concrete but not once does it seem overwhelming. That is in large part thanks to the light streaming in through the windows and the minimal and minimalistic furniture. No giant sofas, just a modern white couch and benches provide seating space.
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Okay, if this isn't romantic then we don't know what is! The bedroom which is also located on the first floor, is concealed from the rest of the living space by a floor-to-ceiling mirrored glass wall. The immediate area around the bedroom is covered by white, flowing curtains that seem almost dreamy. This way, it affords enough privacy (without building walls) while allowing for ample light that keeps the room airy and bright.
The only other accessory in the room, besides the bed and the bison skin rug, is actually a piece of art that has been embedded into the concrete floor and is called 'Holzimitationsparkett' by Gregor Hildebrandt; it is essentially a reflective surface made of cassette tape that has been glued together in a parquet pattern and covered over with epoxy. Phew, eh?
And as if all that wasn't enough, there's this rustic concrete fireplace that adds an extra layer of cosy to the bedroom, and keeps the space from feeling too ascetic. The fireplace isn't the only source of warmth for the Antivilla. In fact, the house generates its own heat when the temperature drops outside. The gauzy curtains in the space in the middle are drawn ensuring that warm and cold air don't intermingle too easily. All in a day's work!
The concrete stairs here take you up to the terrace where 360-degree views of the lake city welcome you. While to the right of the fireplace you find the…
… kitchen! Which is entirely clad in, you guessed it, concrete. The thin curtains stand in for a wall separating the dining space from the kitchen while allowing for conversations and such. The kitchen itself has been kept super minimal as Brandlhuber doesn't spend a lot of time here and so doesn't really have a need for a stocked-up kitchen! The bronze-and-acrylic lamp (seen in other parts of the house as well) is designed by Rudolph Schwarz and was rescued from a church in Cologne.
If you loved this, get these 9 tips for a minimal-style apartment, which you can incorporate in your living space.