Generally speaking, when building in a small space, something always has to give — and in an populated area, most often the "give" is in sacrificing outdoor spaces, especially gardens. But one Beijing- and Austria-based design duo has found a genius solution in the plans for this "Yin & Yang House" currently being built in central Germany.
Inspired by the Chinese symbol for strength and balance in opposing forces, the Yin & Yang House by Chris Precht and Dayong Sun of Penda uses two interlocking structures to create maximum roof space on a tiny corner lot — giving the owners back the space to garden.
In a recent interview with Dezeen, Penda's co-founders said that the designs were dreamed up for a young family who wanted to live off-grid and maintain a self-sufficient lifestyle by growing their own food, but the compact nature of the site in Kassel, Germany meant that the only space available to grow fruit, vegetables and herbs is on the roof.
"Whenever architects design a building, they take an area away that used to belong to nature," the studio told Dezeen. "We try to give this space back to plants on the roof."
So the architects visualized a terraced, stepped design — inspired by the way that mountains rise up out of a valley — that incorporates hundreds of built-in planters and greenhouses to allow the family to grow food all year long. Even more green, the sloping sides of the roof collect and draw rainwater down to a tank where it can be stored and used to water the plants.
Penda is known for its small-space and green-living projects. In 2017, they proposed a Tree Tower apartment building in Toronto for Canadian timber company Tmbr that would similarly incorporate growing spaces on each unit's balcony, and they dreamed up a "radical future living concept" of recyclable modular units for MINI Living.
Read more details about these projects from Penda over on Dezeen this week.