The Penthouse Has Landed

written by:
photos by:
July 15, 2009
Originally published in Urban Revival

In Vienna, a dazzling penthouse by Delugan Meissl has boldly inserted itself between traditional rooftops of the city’s Wieden district like a recently landed alien intruder. 

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  • 
  Sweeping diagonals cut across the façade of House Ray 1 to provide privacy and a modicum of safety for a dramatic outdoor terrace.
    Sweeping diagonals cut across the façade of House Ray 1 to provide privacy and a modicum of safety for a dramatic outdoor terrace.
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  The penthouse is boldly inserted within the traditional rooftops in Vienna's Wieden district.
    The penthouse is boldly inserted within the traditional rooftops in Vienna's Wieden district.
  • 
  The engineering of House Ray 1’s load-bearing structure was extremely complex. Since the house had to be built on top of an old building, the architects opted for lightweight steel skeleton construction. The living/dining area has sliding glass walls that open to the back terrace and pool.
    The engineering of House Ray 1’s load-bearing structure was extremely complex. Since the house had to be built on top of an old building, the architects opted for lightweight steel skeleton construction. The living/dining area has sliding glass walls that open to the back terrace and pool.
  • 
  The biggest challenge for the architects in building House Ray 1 was to create a home for themselves. They transformed the ideas of their architectural philosophy into the architectural reality of each detail, designing each element of or within the house on their 
own, ranging from door handles to the light switches to the furniture. Here we see the view from daughter Nora’s bedroom down the length of the penthouse interior.
    The biggest challenge for the architects in building House Ray 1 was to create a home for themselves. They transformed the ideas of their architectural philosophy into the architectural reality of each detail, designing each element of or within the house on their own, ranging from door handles to the light switches to the furniture. Here we see the view from daughter Nora’s bedroom down the length of the penthouse interior.
  • 
  The cavity for the bathtub is part of the same continuous form-world as House Ray 1’s sloping roof­scape. The white tub is made from Corian; the faucet is by Dornbracht.
    The cavity for the bathtub is part of the same continuous form-world as House Ray 1’s sloping roof­scape. The white tub is made from Corian; the faucet is by Dornbracht.
  • 
  The “culinary cockpit” (a.k.a. the kitchen) stands at the center of the apartment on a raised platform. A long, white slanted counter contains hi-fi speakers and a BUS-system panel of 18 buttons for controlling lights, curtains, heating, ventilation, etc.
    The “culinary cockpit” (a.k.a. the kitchen) stands at the center of the apartment on a raised platform. A long, white slanted counter contains hi-fi speakers and a BUS-system panel of 18 buttons for controlling lights, curtains, heating, ventilation, etc.
  • 
  Nora, the architects' six-year-old daughter, hangs out next to her built-in bed.
    Nora, the architects' six-year-old daughter, hangs out next to her built-in bed.
  • 
  The stair and entry module bulges out over the back of the seven-story building.
    The stair and entry module bulges out over the back of the seven-story building.
  • 
  The kitchen window looks out to stairs that lead up to a small roof terrace. The kitchen faucet is by Dornbracht. The recessed lighting is by Guzzini.
    The kitchen window looks out to stairs that lead up to a small roof terrace. The kitchen faucet is by Dornbracht. The recessed lighting is by Guzzini.
  • 
  Architect and homeowner Meissl considers the eight-story drop to the street.
    Architect and homeowner Meissl considers the eight-story drop to the street.
  • 
  A narrow terrace—one of three—hangs precariously over the street.
    A narrow terrace—one of three—hangs precariously over the street.
  • 
  The walls of the toilet room are decorated with an abstract composition of overlapping black lines printed on a screen that is lit from behind.
    The walls of the toilet room are decorated with an abstract composition of overlapping black lines printed on a screen that is lit from behind.
  • 
  Roman and Nora stand on the terrace, and look out over the reflecting pool and beyond.
    Roman and Nora stand on the terrace, and look out over the reflecting pool and beyond.
  • 
  The long floating counter is a sculptural element that continues the line of duct-like exterior elements. The sloping floors are made from a rich-looking African cherry wood called Doussie. The metal disks beside the ramp are smoke and heat vents. The architects aimed to create an interior without any barriers or columns in order to have an uninterrupted spatial continuum. They appear to have succeeded in their efforts.
    The long floating counter is a sculptural element that continues the line of duct-like exterior elements. The sloping floors are made from a rich-looking African cherry wood called Doussie. The metal disks beside the ramp are smoke and heat vents. The architects aimed to create an interior without any barriers or columns in order to have an uninterrupted spatial continuum. They appear to have succeeded in their efforts.
  • 
  Converging lines of sheer glass, sloping floors, and ceiling planes create the impression of multiple perspectives and vanishing points. There are no interior walls except for those around the bedrooms (as seen here, in the master).
    Converging lines of sheer glass, sloping floors, and ceiling planes create the impression of multiple perspectives and vanishing points. There are no interior walls except for those around the bedrooms (as seen here, in the master).
  • 
  Meissl and Delugan’s favorite part of the house is definitely the “relaxation zone,” which features a black leather platform of their own design that appears to float between layers of tempered glass. The pillows are by Herman Miller.
    Meissl and Delugan’s favorite part of the house is definitely the “relaxation zone,” which features a black leather platform of their own design that appears to float between layers of tempered glass. The pillows are by Herman Miller.
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