House Of The Week: MVRDV’s Barcode Villa Is 9 Houses In 1

Several years ago, Claudia Langer and Gregor Wöltje hired the Dutch architecture studio MVRDV to build a house on the outskirts of Munich. Instead, they got nine houses.

MVRDV, who’ve designed some of the most creative, and controversial, buildings of recent memory, evoked the look of a barcode by dividing a big boxy volume into nine vertical strips, each dramatically different from the next. One strip is covered top-to-bottom in pockmarked aluminum. Another is two-thirds glass, one-third wood paneling. Still another is stucco painted fire-engine red. If I didn’t know better, I’d think the Barcode House was a bunch of quirky rowhouses designed by nine different architects.

The point was to give each strip a unique identity that corresponds to the living spaces within. For instance, the architects arranged the kitchen behind a largely transparent strip. That makes sense: In a kitchen, you want lots of natural light and you don’t need much privacy. Contrast that to the living room, which is hidden behind an opaque metallic facade. There, you’re more willing to sacrifice sunlight for privacy. (And actually, it still gets plenty of light; there are windows off to the side.)

As cool as the place is, I’m not sure I’d want to hang my hat there. Surely, I’d get lost in it. There’s also something mildly unsettling about living somewhere named after the sticker on the bottom of my shampoo bottle. (My house is my home, not just another commodity!) Then again, if I ever got sick of it, all I’d have to do is walk a few feet, and it’d be like stepping into an entirely new house.

[Images courtesy of MVRDV; Read more at (registration required)]

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