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Barkow Leibinger

Smart Material House

Our proposal for affordable housing is a prize-winning scheme selected for construction in Hamburg, Germany and designed in conjunction with the International Building Exhibition (IBA). The City of Hamburg and Arch+ magazine are sponsors of the proposal. The Smart Material House provides six flexible live-work types for a four-story apartment house sited within a new master plan for housing and landscapes. The apartments are available at a low price to eligible families or individuals from the community.

The design goes back to very simple, almost archaic materials—concrete and wood, which can be prefabricated and then quickly installed on site. Especially formative is the planned use of infra-lightweight-concrete walls as “load-bearing thermal insulation.” The solid wall panels, which are gently concaved are multitasking elements and will function as supporting elements, perimetral walls, and as thermal insulation at once, so the bearing structure remains exposed both inside and outside, without any additional finishes or cold bridge problems.

About The Designer

Frank Barkow studied architecture at Montana State University and the Harvard GSD. He has recently taught at the AA in London, Harvard GSD, and University of Wisconsin in conjunction with his firm, which won the Marcus Prize for Architecture.

In 1993 Frank Barkow and Regine Leibinger founded their practice in Berlin. Their interdisciplinary, discursive attitude allows their work to expand and respond to advancing knowledge and technology. This know-how contributes to various projects including a gatehouse and factory-campus event space in Stuttgart Germany and the TRUTEC Office Building in Seoul. Current research projects have focused on infralight concrete, facade systems, space-frames, and ceramic elements. Recently completed projects include a high-rise, Tour Total, near the Berlin main train station, a research campus in the countryside of Germany, and a Fellows Pavilion for the fellows of the American Academy in Berlin.

Barkow Leibinger’s work has been shown at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2008 and 2014, at the Marrakech Biennale 2012 and is included in the permanent collections of MoMA, New York, and the Deutsches Architektur Museum, Frankfurt. They have won three National AIA Honor Awards for Architecture and the prestigious Marcus Prize for Architecture, Milwaukee, recognizing emerging talent in the field for design excellence and innovation, as well a Global Holcim Innovation Award for sustainability.

The monograph Spielraum was recently published by Hatje Cantz, with a foreword by Hal Foster, essays by Carson Chan, Sarah Whiting and Brett Steele and a photo essay by Iwan Baan. Other publications include Bricoleur/Bricolage (2013) and An Atlas of Fabrication (2009), both published at AA Publications London.