The Luxembourg based architectural practice 2001 has recently completed ‘Hercule’, a single family concrete residence in Mondorf-les-bains, south of Luxembourg. Named after the local hero John “Hercule” Gruen for its robust strength, the unique residence features a striking volume that juts out from the ground like an iceberg, which is emphasized by the stepping its plot which occupies a residual portion of the land situated between an old farmhouse and a suburban villa.
The monolithic structure of Hercule brings a strong sense of grounding in its site and surrounding context; rather than working against the topographical constraints of the site, the natural context helped to shape and determine the three levels of the residence, which gradually step down along the slope of the site. The basement groups all of the functional spaces of the residence, including the garage, entrance, wardrobe, laundry room, fitness room, wine cellar. This also includes the dining room and living area- both of which are arranged around a space measuring 14 x 6m, that completely open along the south-western side, through the means of a small patio. The remaining upper floor accommodates all the bedrooms and bathrooms of the residence.
In order to maximize the sense of privacy for the lower ground level of Hercule, the architects designed the building according to an essential aesthetic, which included creating a compacted volume that only allows the two upper floors of Hercule to be the only visible parts, from street level. In doing so, a high sense of privacy is maintained while the building’s visual impact over the ground is minimized.
Hercule is a unique residence redefines contemporary domestic architecture by embracing its contextual complexities
The façade design of Hercule was approached differently along each side: along the southern side, a blind Béton Brut walls work as a structural beam for the upper floors, removing the need for a column in the living room. The northern elevation presents various openings along its façade which frame views of the landscape through generous furniture-windows. The eastern and western façades are oriented towards the streetscape and garden and are treated as curtain walls with solar protective glass. By reflecting both its suburban and landscape milieu, Hercule seamlessly blends within its surroundings.
The sense of “radicalism” apparent in the architecture of Hercule is furthermore heightened by its lack of finishing and ornamentation. This multifaceted artefact or “architectural bastard,” as Phillippe Nathan (founder of 2001) puts it, results in a project that successfully deals with its various contextual complexities, embracing them as the driving element for providing vital living spaces in the 21st century.
Throughout Hercule, all the main structural elements are made visible, which is further enhanced through the use of formwork. The resulting austerity of the residences redefines contemporary domestic standards, re-shifting its focus on providing a minimal quality of interior design that fosters a strong relationship between architecture and context.