A gingerbread house in the forest | Atelier ST
With its gingerbread appearance and woodsy setting, this cottage brings to mind the edible houses favored by the forest-dwelling cannibalistic witches of children’s fables. Architects Silvia Schellenberg-Thaut and Sebastian Thaut of Atelier ST designed the small house south of Berlin as a weekend retreat for their own family. It replaced an old summer house from the 1920’s that, while charming, was too damaged to save. However the architects did use it as inspiration for the new structure, keeping the proportions and simple construction along with details like the flared roof eaves and mixed siding.
Approached from the front, the new cottage initially looks like a traditional dark house in the forest. A few details are a bit off though. The openings are either larger or smaller than expected, much like a child’s drawing of a house. The windows and doors are also emphasized by bright white trim that is extra wide and has rounded corners, contributing to the gingerbread house look.
The house has 62 m2 (667 ft2) of floor space. Contrasting with the dark, reserved exterior, the interior is bright and open. The front door leads to an entry hall lined with pine cabinets and shelves. From the entry, you can see through the small house to the forest beyond. Move down the short hallway and you suddenly find yourself in a bright two-storey space painted entirely white. The all-glass rear wall ensures that the living/dining room receives plenty of light, even with the surrounding trees. An oversized sliding glass door opens the room to a narrow covered porch, also finished in all-white.
The kitchen and bathroom are at the front of the house, on either side of the entrance hall. They share the white paint scheme but introduce naturally-finished pine as well, reflecting the pine forest. The kitchen is equipped with pine plywood cabinets topped by a solid pine work surface. A large east-facing window on one side brings in morning light, while an equally-sized pass-through opening on the other side keeps the kitchen open to the living area.
The bathroom holds some surprises as well. The bright red mosaic-tiled shower is an unexpected pop of color, like a maraschino cherry on a Black Forest cake. And instead of the usual mirror, the minimalist pine vanity is paired with a window giving a view of the forest.
A concealed door in the living area opens to reveal the steep flight of stairs to the sleeping quarters in the loft over the front half of the house. The loft is divided into two sleeping spaces, both provided with skylights and one of which has an internal window overlooking the living space. There is also a small loft over the porch that is used as a study. The cottage is well-insulated and is heated by the small cast iron woodstove in the living room. The stair opening and internal window allow the heat to circulate up to the loft.
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