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Hexenhaus: A House for a Man and a Cat

Hexenhaus: A House for a Man and a Cat

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Publisher: Walther König, Köln, Authors: A. Ramos, M. Schimemi & S. Smithson, ISBN: 9783960989325, Format: 222 x 286mm, 272pp

In 1984, German furniture-maker Axel Bruchhäuser reached out to architectural duo Alison and Peter Smithson with a playful letter ostensibly written by his cat and addressed to theirs. This letter inquired about commissioning the construction of lookouts on Bruchhäuser’s home. The house’s primary materials are wood and glass, providing a poetic example of latticework and a stunning use of natural light. Bruchhäuser’s home is known locally as the 'Hexenhaus' (the 'Witches’ House'—a common name in the area where the Brothers Grimm wrote their fairy tales). Started in 1986 and completed in 2001, and located in a dense forest in Hessen, the renovation that the Smithsons undertook constituted an example of what they called 'law of the conglomerate'. Step by step, the house was expanded and opened to admit the light as well the trees, which became part of the interior.

The Hexenhaus is a testament to the early, radical style of the Smithsons, to the corrective and anti-aesthetic character of their finest designs – and at the same time, a monument to the professional work of influential architects themselves.