When a German pioneer in the field of biogas technology commissioned Korbach-based Christoph Hesse Architects, he had an unusual request: a round house. Drawn to the shape of a circular room, the client also found that a round form had the optimal proportions for supporting biogas production, which he would use to power his home. Dubbed Villa F, the project was envisioned as the “first link of a local heat grid” powered by biogas to encourage widespread adoption and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
Located in the central highland town of Medebach, Germany, Villa F stands out from its gabled farmhouse neighbors with its cylindrical form. To knit the building’s appearance in to the landscape, the architects used locally sourced materials, such as stones from the nearby creek, for exterior cladding and based the sloped roofline off the surrounding mountainous terrain. Loggias and balconies also reinforce a connection with the outdoors.
The home is split into two floors. The ground floor consists of an office with technical rooms used for biogas production. The loft-like upper level houses the living areas with a centrally located living space, dining area and kitchen as well as a bedroom, bathroom, sauna and outdoor loggia with a heated circular pool overlooking the landscape. A close connection with nature was stressed as a reflection of the client’s agricultural background and his environmental values.
“Energy efficiency and protection of the environment are the main elements of the design,” the architects added. “The supply and disposal of the building are due to the biogas system self-sufficiently — therefore ‘off-the-grid.’ Biogas has gained enormous traction in recent years, as biomass from forestry, agriculture and waste is used in a bioenergy village to generate electricity and heat. At the global scale, its substantial energy content could reduce the dependence on fossil fuels.” As a model biogas-powered home, Villa F has inspired the other villagers to adopt the technology with the goal of creating a self-powered community.
Images by Christoph Hesse Architects, Deimel + Wittmar