House in the Kettle Holes Blankensee, Uckermark

Thomas Kröger Architekten


New rural architecture

The Uckermark is one of the most sparsely populated regions in Germany. Much has nevertheless been written lately about its increasing gentrification. People from the country are often unable to afford to buy a house here, whilst “city dwellers” tend to be more well-off. Many villages are becoming deserted as a result – a trend not mitigated by the many “weekend Berliners” whose only input during the week comes from their robot lawn mowers. At the same time, tourism does have a crucial economic role to play in this structurally weak region. And influxes of young urbanites certainly help pump-prime important and beneficial developmental processes there.

This is an area brimming with contradictions – a sprawling stretch of countryside defined by lakes, woodlands and farmland that has always set people’s hearts racing. The Berlin-based Thomas Kröger architects’ practice has been active designing houses, industrial buildings and holiday properties here for several years now. In some cases they revamp existing buildings, in others they build from scratch. The “In the Kettle Holes” holiday home completed this year is Thomas Kröger’s own project. Public funding was forthcoming for the purpose of converting what had been a farmhouse under the proviso that it continue to be used as a tourism facility for the next twelve years.

The view from the building’s gaping façades extends far out into the unspoilt countryside. The architectural performance is ably supported by the gentlest of hills, masses of cornflowers and tree-lined “kettle holes”, tiny patches of morainic water dotted about the fields. The landscape architect Rainer Elstermann, a man whose services are also greatly in demand amongst newcomers to the Uckermark at the moment, was responsible for turning the surrounding 37.5 acres of land into one big wildflower meadow. A small cottage garden stocked with shrubs and hedges to the north of the house blends in nicely with the fruit and poplar trees already in place.

Architecture and Object

Photo: Thomas Kröger von tka.
© Thomas Heimann

“A house that’s all of a piece” is how the architect sums up the essence of his holiday-home project.

A passe-partout for the colourful hues of Mother Nature

The holiday home defers chromatically to the joyous array of colours provided, in the warmer months at least, by Nature. The dark, monochrome scheme adhered to virtually throughout both inside and outside serves holidaymakers as a framework within which to contemplate the natural world outside. Only a dark space can bring out the most in Nature, Thomas Kröger argues. The traditional, regionally typical fieldstone basement is all that recalls the original building on the outside. The façades above have been rendered in a slate-green acid-washed plaster that echoes the colour of the sheet-zinc roof.

The interior commences with a small, honeycomb-shaped hall that acts as a way-finding hub. The living area, by contrast, is roomily open-plan and, besides an hexagonal corner seating unit complete with fireplace, also features a kitchen and dining area opposite. The hexagon theme is repeatedly taken up, specifically in the dark-fired ceramic tiles that cover the entire ground floor, for instance. The building’s sense of darkness is further enhanced by loam-plastered walls, the dark timber used for the roof system, kitchen surfaces, beds and wall cupboards, and baths and washbasins tiled in black.

“Materially, formally and by dint of its low-profile rose,” Thomas Kröger Architects explain, “the FSB 1147 lever set selected blends in perfectly with the restrained, monochrome overall design of the inside of the building, the aim of which was to engender a tranquil atmosphere and to serve as a passe-partout for the intense, ever-changing colourfulness of the natural world around.” The handles have been fitted in Blasted, Black Anodised Aluminium. “This is a matt, slightly coarse finish,” the architects add, “that readily conjures up the black wrought-iron handles commonly found in modest peasant dwellings.”

Object Details

Photos: Thomas Heimann