There is reassurance in familiar things, so there is always reassurance in other things that look like, well, the things we already own. That’s one reason why building homes in clusters of three or four is a good idea; it creates that sense of community and safety without the unsettling feeling of anonymity and facelessness that can arise when one’s house is part of a large development of hundreds that are exactly identical. Of course, there are less emotional and more practical considerations too that might cause this to be a sensible course of action; the cost of materials and construction, most obviously, is significantly reduced when buildings are being produced en masse.
But that sense of uniqueness – even in sameness – really is absolutely key to doing this right. For that reason, this collection of three family homes in Göttingen is worth taking a closer look at. Designed by Scholz & Fuchs Architects, the houses walk that fine like between community and individuality. Very similar in their overall style but each with its own unique personality, the houses occupy a large piece of land that is close to being communal, with only low fences marking out the garden space of each particular home. This would be an ideal situation for three families with similarly aged children to live in; each house quickly growing as familiar to the children as their own.
This image gives a good impression of the overall look of this mini-development. Each house sticks to a limited colour palette of white and grey with warm wooden accents. The two houses pictures here appear broadly similar upon first glance, but take a closer look and you’ll quickly notice all the little quirks here and there that set them apart from one another: windows of different sizes placed at different angles and wooden lean-tos in similar but mismatching positions are a couple of the small disparities that help manifest their own personalities.
Outdoor space is very important here, particularly as it contributes so vitally to the near-communal sense of belonging that this group of houses appears to aim to foster. A fish pond and lawn furniture help make the most of this house’s garden area, from which playing children could easily hop the fence to visit their next-door neighbours.
That beautifully rich wood brings so much life into what would otherwise be a fairly monochrome and uninspiring colour palette.
Inside one of the houses, we discover a simple interior carefully designed to match the exterior. A minimalist staircase – reduced simply to its steps – low-hanging lights, an extremely generous use of white and a glass-barriered landing that overlooks the living room all contribute to an intensely modern, intensely simple feel.
On the left we can see that more of that wonderful wood has made it into the bathroom, while the right-hand image gives us a closer look at those magical floating stairs that drives home just how unsuitable these would be for sufferers of vertigo.