House And Office Complex By J Mayer H Features Monochrome Facades And False Shadows

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J Mayer H Architects has finished a housing and workplace complicated in Germany, covered with graphic patterns that extend down from facades to develop the impression of elongated shadows .

Sonnenhof by J Mayer H

The 4 buildings that make up the Sonnenhof complex range in height from 5 to 7 storeys, and are clustered around a central courtyard.

All 4 buildings feature faceted monochrome facades. Skewed pentagonal and square windows are outlined by grey aluminium panelling, contrasting the stark white plasterwork.

Sonnenhof by J Mayer H

In homage to this detailing, J Mayer H chose to paint different places of the courtyard black and white, generating the illusion that dark shadows are cast onto the ground.

Wedge-shaped planters with integrated benches contribute to this effect.

Sonnenhof by J Mayer H

The Sonnenhof complex is situated in Jena, a town in the Saale river valley in eastern Germany.


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Development began on the project back in 2010, after a plot was secured behind present buildings in the historical centre of the town.

Sonnenhof by J Mayer H

“The notion behind was to fill the large web site in the middle of the historic centre with buildings of about the exact same size as the ones from the past,” explained J Mayer H’s Wilko Hoffmann.

“We didn’t want to develop one huge creating there, so we made a decision to develop 4 smaller volumes.”

Sonnenhof by J Mayer H

“The separate structures allow for cost-free accessibility by means of the grounds,” he added. “Their placement on the outer edges of the plot defines a small-scale outdoor room congruent with the medieval city construction.”

Sonnenhof by J Mayer H

Shops are positioned on the ground floors of the buildings, even though the upper amounts accommodate apartments and offices. There is also an underground automobile park, concealed beneath the courtyard.

Sonnenhof by J Mayer H

“The planned incorporation of commerce, residence, and workplace permits a flexible pattern of use that also integrates itself conceptually into the surroundings,” said the studio.

Sonnenhof by J Mayer H

The buildings angle inwards in the direction of the tops, mimicking the hipped roofs of surrounding buildings, whilst slanted doors are set in the sloping walls at the base of the structures.

Sonnenhof by J Mayer H

Two of the concrete blocks lean with each other, linking the upper levels and producing a passageway at ground level that connects the street to the courtyard.

Sonnenhof by J Mayer H

These forms and details are comparable in fashion to numerous other projects by the Berlin-based firm, such as a law courts constructing in Belgium and a Stuttgart residence reminiscent of a dinosaur’s head.

Sonnenhof by J Mayer H

Within, grey staircases rise up by means of angular openings that mirror the pentagonal form of the windows. Strip lights and glass balustrades accentuate these irregular shapes.

Photography is by David Franck.


Undertaking credits:

Architect: J Mayer H Architects
Undertaking architect: Jens Seiffert
Undertaking crew: Juergen Mayer H, Jan-Christoph Stockebrand, Christoph Emenlauer, Max Reinhardt, Christian Pälmke
Consumer: Wohnungsgenossenschaft “Carl Zeiss” eG
Venture and construction management: Kappes Spouse IPG
Structural fire safety: Ingenieurbüro Dr. Krämer GmbH
Building services: Scholze Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH
Building physics advisor: Ingenieurbüro Santer Bauphysik
Ventilation advisor: Ingenieurbüro Rau
Consultant visitors engineering: GRI Ingenieure
Advisor outside facilities: Ingenieurbüro Abraham
Lighting engineers: Lichttransfer
Model making: Werk five

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