We asked architects and interior designers about their personal feel-good spots and were impressed with the wide range of favourite places we found out about. They reveal the meaning of design and creativity that determines our living space and our everyday life – whether we’re alone or in the company of others. Dive in with us, renew your strength and be inspired by freedom, enthusiasm, fantasy and relaxation.
Home is much more than just a place. Home is a smell, a thought, the memories and that sense of security. It’s the sense of a safe haven in an age where we’re seeing values shift, experiencing economic crises and noticing the effects of globalisation. Right now, we’re discovering more than ever how important it is to feel at home and have roots somewhere.As Peter Sandmeyer once so accurately outlined in ‘Stern’ magazine, home is a place where you’re rooted. That place can be different for everyone – the humble village in the Eifel mountains, the fishing harbour on the North Sea coast, the tenement with four rear courtyards in Kreuzberg, Berlin, the dark pines of the Black Forest, the foothills of the Bavarian Alps or the soot-blackened mining estate in the Ruhr Valley. These are the stories of little houses and big houses, of places where roots are set.
Home is always a place where you understand yourself; where you can be what you want to be. Where you find kindred spirits; where you feel you’re in the right place. That could be anywhere in the world. In Berlin, in Munich, in the Bavarian province in the Alps or in Rio de la Plata. Home is not a place, it’s a basic need. Just like Herman Hesse’s ‘Peter Camenzind’, who returns to the mountains and the village of his childhood after a long time wandering the world: ‘Here in my village, no one thinks of me as out-of-the-ordinary.’
You can’t construct home, but you can create the basis for it with architecture. Architecture can make places from which security emerges, history is written and romances and memories are solidified. This is because architecture is much more than the fusion of function, construction and meaning, and is also much more than the exploration of boundaries, technology, economics and design. It’s important to transform the environment from pragmatic reality into the metaphysical world of ideas, to sensitise the everyday world and to raise it out of pure triviality. This means developing new qualities and not just affordable, mass-produced living space. We need to create impressive spatial impressions and images using the simplest, most common walls, ceilings and openings. This ‘working with the essentials’ approach can allow everyone to experience a sense of home within architecture.
"The photo is of the first house we built together. Raw. Pure. Honest."
Margit: Home is not a specific place for me. It’s more a feeling of rootedness. I imagine it like a tree that is firmly rooted in the ground. Just like the various cultures that we identify with, these roots might be set in the place where you grew up or in the place where you currently live. Our social environment consisting of our family and friends can also give us roots.
Kim: My family and my friends are my home. It’s all about people, but also about exciting and inspiring places and cultures. For me, excitement creates a sense of home. As I was born in South Africa and now live in Germany, both Cape Town and Berlin are home to me. You might say that I’m always on the way home.
Kim: Definitely the town. I feel free because there’s so much going on around me.
Margit: For me there’s no either/or. I’ve been living in the town for a while now, but as time goes on, the longing for a place in the countryside gets stronger. More and more I can imagine both, but only in extremes; either in the centre of town or in the middle of the countryside.
Kim: Of course! With the people we surround ourselves with such as friends and family – that’s how home-like places are made. I was born in Johannesburg, but my home is both in Berlin and in Cape Town. For me personally, aesthetic places are important. I don’t feel happy in ugly places. Feelings of well-being, a sense of security right through to excitement are what create home for me.
Margit: Home can be constructed physically. Architects have been doing it for centuries and have created residential buildings as well as buildings for cultural and social facilities that strengthen a feeling of identification and home. When designing a home, it’s important to include everything – town and nature, the user, the neighbourhood and the traditional building methods using local techniques and materials.
Kim: That’s true, the concept of home is complex. It’s good to recognise this and to see the creation of one as a process. Just as life situations are always changing, your home can grow over time. I like the idea that we are constantly constructing homes for ourselves.
Home for me means ’connectedness’ – with
people who are dear to me and/or a special
environment. Combined with the feeling of connectedness is the feeling of ‘understanding’ and ‘being understood’. Therefore, I feel at home in a built environment when I understand why the room is the way it is, why the materials were chosen the way they were and when I can feel it with all my senses.I feel at home when I feel understood, because the architect was thinking about my needs when they designed the room.
My home is in the town. The density of buildings, cultural offerings, inspiration and people create a calming ambient noise within me. However, maybe the town is only my home because I know that I can also flee to the countryside whenever I want, whenever the noise gets too loud...
Absolutely. As I said in answer to the first question, I believe you can construct home when you incorporate both the spirit of the place (the ‘genius loci’) and the needs of the future user, and conscientiously implement the ambient effect of proportions and materials. Even on a metropolitan level, constructing home or a feeling of home – naturally using regional and traditional building methods – is always closely tied to people as a benchmark.
The bench in front of the fireplace is my retreat. I designed it so that it envelops me, protects me from the family chaos and gives me the opportunity to be connected with myself and the fire. It’s a little everyday escape from the loud noise ...