Situated in a secluded location in the rural foothills of the Alps in the Illertal valley, the building's materials and proportions correspond to the natural surroundings of an extraordinary location. With a natural backbone to the east in the form of a 4-6 m high, wooded Nagelfluh rock face, an introverted natural courtyard space extends in a north-south direction with a direct view of the moraine landscape of the Illertal and the adjacent foothills of the Allgäu Alps.

The height development and orientation of the building, which is elevated in the natural courtyard space, follows the topographical development of the existing backbone, the forested Nagelfluh rock face. This gently moving vertical silhouette corresponds to the horizontal layering of the building and its links to the terrain. The building is “rooted” in the introverted courtyard space via monolithic black concrete elements, such as the garage block or the columns and wall panels that define the space.

The stand-alone building is approached via a meadow-flanked gravel path to the partially covered inner courtyard space, bordered to the east by the Nagelfluh rock face, to the west by the sculptural brass access staircase and, after overcoming this, ends in the fully glazed “balcony zone” facing the inner courtyard area of the natural space, which also houses all serving functions such as the kitchen, access areas and study in the form of a set, meandering cabinet.

The head of the building, which is arranged at right angles to the main body and slightly overhangs the rock face, occupies a special position due to its central position between the inner courtyard to the north and the Illertal valley with the adjacent Allgäu Alps to the south. Wood-paneled on all sides in traditional craftsmanship as a “parlor”, it functions above the flowing courtyard space, floating between the trees, bathed in softly modulated, guided light, as a coupling element between the natural space and the living area. The rather introverted roof extension, which is nevertheless enclosed on all sides by glass surfaces and protected by the wooden parapet reinforcement, also traditionally clad in wood, serves as a private retreat. Characterized by the sublime, diverse atmospheric views and light impressions of the directly adjacent treetops and the boundless distant view of the Allgäu Alps to the south.

Anchored back to the monolithic garage block, the conceptual requirement for a spatially and functionally structured, reduced number of columns and wall panels, coupled with extensive glazing and exit options, including minimized internal load-bearing walls, calls for a timber frame structure that partially utilizes the entire wall height as static potential. Horizontally suspended, self-supporting solid timber ceilings simultaneously assume the stiffening and structural-physical storage functions of the building, which has been consistently realized to low-energy house standards.

The building's basic attitude of service towards the natural space with its desired temporary character is reflected in the use of untreated, gracefully ageing, naturally patinated wood as the main material. The integrative and abstract structure creates a natural interplay of colors and interplay between “ingredient and existing”. Substrate surfaces on the roofs allow the local vegetation to “reconquer” sealed surfaces. Necessary components in contact with the ground, which are kept to a minimum and do not impair the “flow” of the natural space, are cast in black, monolithic concrete. Walkable, “cultivated” areas under the building were paved with excavated gravel and bound with cement, in keeping with the basic spiritual approach.

House As Guest

Sulzberg, DE



 | Architecture


Michael Becker, Walter Felder, Rolf Ennulat

PLANNING TEAM:               
Merz Kley Partner GmbH, Dornbirn
GMI Ingenieure, Dornbirn
Hecht Lichtplanung, Rankweil

Thomas Drexel, Friedberg
Becker Architects Planners






Keselstraße 14, 87435 Kempten
Fon: +49 (0) 831 7458998 0  
Fax: +49 (0) 831 7458998 9