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Private Residence: Washington

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Through his design for a secluded residence set within the Austrian countryside, architect Alexander Diem has sought to address concerns regarding the erosion of personal privacy. From a distance the building’s distinctive façade is reminiscent of a Chinese folding screen, while a closer look identifies the cut-out cavities as motifs that symbolize food and the harvest. The variable panels not only protect the dwelling’s inhabitants from the sun, but also enable the controlling of privacy – able to be opened or closed on demand.Internal volumes are assigned a value derived from the time spent within them. For example, the stairs are treated as subordinate ancillary space, while living rooms are generously proportioned with ceiling heights of up to 5.6 meters.Throughout the property, artistic elements are integrated as part of the building’s architecture. A piece by artist Nick Oberthaler is embedded in the terrace floor, while the elaborate main door by artist Plamen Dejanoff references the heavy doors of an historical country house.Diem explains that the built volume places an emphasis on the transition between public and private space: ‘fence, garden, wooden facade, exterior wall, social rooms, private rooms — the farther one gets into the villa, the more private and gentle the building appears’.

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