Libeskind Hops on Pre-Fab Playground with 'Artist's Residence'

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Architect Daniel Libeskind is not shy. The famously outspoken architect has been tapped for a spate of museum projects in the past several years: first, the Jewish Museum in Berlin that put him on the proverbial map; and more recently Dresden's National Military Museum, a modification of an existing weaponry arsenal that's drawn criticism for its nouveau Brutalist addition onto the 19th-century facade. Libeskind has defended his design, explaining that German history cannot be seen as a seamless chronology; instead "there is an interruption, a fundamental dislocation -- particularly when it comes to the Nazi period."

Taking a break from explaining German history to its citizens, Studio Daniel Libeskind has undertaken a smaller-scale residential project, a friendlier canvas on which to apply the architect's signature triangles of glass and steel. The pre-fabricated house defies convention: it's not designed on a grid; the materials are luxe, not cheap; and the exterior is an undiluted version of a Libeskind original. The Villa is also not for the faint of heart. The structure resembles a cut crystal, with silver zinc-sided facets triangulating from a central point. Even the interior plan is experimental, intended to blur the line "between a residential home, a museum and a beautiful villa."

The first of the Villa prototypes was built in Datteln, Germany, roughly one hour northeast of Dusseldorf in Westphalia (literature geeks may recall that nomenclature from a certain 1759 satire written by Voltaire). Built for entertaining, the pre-fab house is a sizeable 5,500 square feet, with four bedrooms, a sauna, and a cellar. (Though try as we might, it's difficult to envision a pre-fabricated cellar.) The outré "Libeskind style" comes with glossy white floors that would make a gallery proud, though more subdued buyers can select wooden parquet.

Of course, most new home buyers with a budget between $2.8 and $4.1 million aren't traditionally in the pre-fab market. The advantages? The construction estimate is only six months, and only 30 housing packages are being sold by Libeskind's Berlin-based company, guaranteeing purchasers a certain exclusivity. And for hardcore fans of the emerging starchitect, it's a small price to pay for a work of art.

Libeskind explains further: "I have actually just designed [The Villa] for myself -- I thought about how the shower should be, how I would like to wake up, how the front door should look. Seen from this angle, the house has become an artist's residence."
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