open house stands for an ongoing research in design criteria conveying the relationship of man and environment in architectural language. Initiated was the interest by an encounter with Japanese architecture in 1991. Here a personal experience of unity between man and environment in a temple was the starting point for exploring which design options can trigger a spontaneous understanding of this to an unprepared visitor as highest aim in architectural language.

The analysis of traditional Japanese architecture and its comparison with modern architecture by Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe, Alvar Aalto and many contemporary architects allowed the assembly of a set of design criteria such as:

– architecture and nature
– opposites
– change
– inside and outside
– ambivalence
– imperfection
– simplicity
– growth
– permeability
– void
– authenticity

These design criteria show a wide variety of formal expressions and can be used as inspiration for individual use. Not all may be applied in the same project, but several together can greate a certain refinement. This research content was first published in “open house – towards a new architecture” jovis, Berlin, 2006.

The design criteria are constantly updated by new examples, and examining their application in practical projects. In the design of a funeral parlour, 2003 design criteria of the doctoral thesis, 2002 were applied in an irregular shell from short rods with membrane suspension. The lightweight structure MIKADOweb stems from the spacial and structural aspects of this design and is an effective and efficient structural system. It was tested in models and experimental structures at Institute for Structure and Design, University of Innsbruck and published at international events 2010-13.

In seminars at Institute for Structure and Design, University of Innsbruck the design criteria were tested further in design experiments and updated with new examples 2010-13. These have been evaluated and published in “open house 2 – design criteria for a new architecture” jovis, Berlin, 2016. Here international examples of different building typologies are each described using several design criteria together. This shows that multiple connections between man and environment in architecture add greatly to our quality of life.

architecture and nature
The mergence of architecture and nature is important in our self-conception relative to our surroundings. Awareness of the effect and influence of natural elements, in conjunction with traditional and modern construction techniques, enable the deliberate and sensitive building of striking spaces that harmonise with nature.

A natural system includes many opposites, as light, dark, rough, smooth, old or young. In the same way a building with many contradictions can stand for the diversity of nature. If a building is extremely reduced in comparison to this diversity of nature, an architectural framework is created in which nature holds a particularly strong presence.

The aspect of change shows that architecture, if it aspires to be part of human life, must create space for such experience. In whatever manner this process of life is shown, through transient materials, short-lived construction, changeable rooms or by focusing our view on the change of nature-man is led to the acceptance and transcendence of his own transience of being.

inside and outside
It is an inherent necessity to establish a relationship with our environment. By creating gradual transitions or by swapping interior and exterior, architecture can formulate built solutions for these requirements. A shift of emphasis can bring linking elements to the outside and move severing elements into the background.

Ambivalent spatial situations cause irritation since they are difficult to explain, although they are vehemently and directly experienced. Ambivalence and contradiction in architecture lead to more than rooms, by extending the spectrum of perception they can impart new experiences and perhaps even knowledge.

Presentation of imperfection – through his striving to complete the unfinished and faulty – provides an opening for man to become a part. There are endless opportunities in architecture to make available space for such interactions. Only if people enter into a relationship with their surroundings can they experience perfection.

Restriction to the essential and liberation from the unneccessary can harbour a fundamental wealth. Not restless distraction, but the precise, concentrated focus will let us detect value in the smallest things.

Architecture that breaks away from the prevalent fixation on symmetry to work freely with shifts, also in scale, can be irritating and thus liberate man of his usual patterns of preception – offering possibilities for inner development and intellectual growth. 
Growth is really concerned with the possibilities for intellectual development of man; it is unpredictable and should not be limited in our built environment by leaving insufficient space for our boundless imagination. To create and attain new qualities in architecture can make a significant contribution to this.

Architecture has different ways of achieving permeability, reminiscent of the ethereal nature of the human body. Clever use of materials can trigger an intellectual receptiveness in the user, in which man perceives himself in a larger context and unites with his surroundings. This is the case when objects gain depth through ornament or texture, thereby blurring their boundaries.

Emptiness creates the preconditions for the human mind to come to rest. This basic state provides the opportunity for transcending individual perception. Architecture can set off this effect and focus our attention on the smallest details.
 Spaces that literally remain empty and allow the free development of all kinds of activities can also stand for this emptiness, where all begins and returns.

Authenticity occurs when the larger context is evident and in the foreground, rather than self-representation. This modesty leads to an intellectual freedom that allows keeping tradition at a distance while pursuing individual and contemporary paths.