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Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal is the President of IBSystems, the parent company of, MCADCafe, EDACafe.Com, GISCafe.Com, and ShareCG.Com.

House design R 129 by Werner Sobek

January 25th, 2011 by Sanjay Gangal

In recent years there has seen rapid progress in the development of materials, nanotechnology and sensor technology. The resulting new developments and techniques are being intensively applied in industries such as automobile engineering, aircraft construction and aerospace technology; building construction, on the other hand is, at the beginning of the 3rd millennium, still largely using concepts, techniques and materials that have hardly changed for decades or even centuries. To achieve real progress in the construction industry, its basic methods have to be questioned and maybe defined anew.


Design: Werner Sobek with Maren Sostmann
Planning: Werner Sobek, Stuttgart
Project team: Werner Sobek, Maren Sostmann; Sven von Boetticher, Jassen Mihaylov
Design phase: 2001- 2005


Werner Sobek have firm conviction that modern buildings should not only represent the latest technologies, but also minimise the use of resources, be light, transparent and designed and built with a view to easy dismantling and recycling. Minimising the use of resources means using as little material as possible in the construction of a building, minimising the energy demand of the building over its lifetime and, if possible, making all construction materials recyclable. Lightweight construction contributes to minimising the use of resources, while transparency offers the user maximum contact with the environment and enables him to optimise the use of natural sources of light.


The idea of jettisoning traditional structures and methods of construction created the desire to design a building whose multi-functional façade would serve as a second skin for the residents. The building should be as independent of the surrounding landscape as possible; at the same time it was to be apt for a variety of uses, such as work and leisure, or accommodation for a single person as well as for a family. The search for the most suitable shape of such a building resulted in a lenticular spheroid which echoes archetypal aesthetic forms found in nature (e.g. dew drops). As a consequence the house R 129 does not feature traditional cubic forms dictated by the construction materials used. The transition between floor, wall and ceiling is fluid; the relationship between the enclosed volume and surface area of the building has been optimised.

The skin or envelope of the building consists of a plastic material which is extremely light and transparent. The structural frame is fabricated from carbon box sections. The skin has a “low e” coating which prevents radiation of heat into the interior (in summer) and to the exterior (in winter). Thanks to the application of an electrochromatic foil which can be controlled electrically, the envelope can be darkened or made completely opaque either in sections or as a whole. The external surface of the envelope also carries solar cells applied by means of vapour deposition. These cells reduce light transmission by only 20% but supply a large part of the electrical energy demand of the building.

The foundation raft, which consists of a carbon carcass, carries a heating floor that takes care of temperature control during the cold season, as well as a technical installations floor which provides storage facilities and connections for electrical energy, water, compressed air and communications lines.

The interior of the building is devoid of fixed partitions or walls between the various functional areas. A central non-stationary module houses sanitary and kitchen installations. Around this central module the various space “cells” used for working and sleeping can be arranged. These space cells allow the user to create enclosed or private areas within the residential space provided by the envelope of the building.

Contact Werner Sobek

Category: Residential

One Response to “House design R 129 by Werner Sobek”

  1. Peregrinus says:

    If the electrochromatic foil requires constant power to maintain any gradient of dimming then it sounds like a design flaw, now if it was like an e-ink display and only required current to alter dimming level and held the new level without power then it would be a great feature, and if at a high enough division of sections or resolution then could function as a display surface. Also if the dimming were achieved by ever greater levels of white opaqueness then if fully dimmed it would also help cool the roof instead of heating it with darker colors like with electrochromatic foils if I understand them correctly.

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