Blending In While Standing Out: The Duplex, By Atelier ST

Duplex House
Clemens Poloczek

The German word Geborgenheit describes an emotional experience that encapsulates a sense of security, warmth, comfort, and being cared for. It is a feeling that typically emerges within a trusted and safe environment. To the architects of Atelier ST, cultivating this atmosphere within the spaces they create is a foundational pillar of their practice and philosophy. With the completion of their recent project, Duplex—a family home close to the city of Leipzig—the studio has created a residence that is blending into its surroundings while simultaneously making a bold statement. In the late summer days, Ignant travelled to Saxony to experience this exceptional building firsthand.

The initial planning phase for the privately commissioned residence started in early 2020. “The goal was to create a structure that integrates into the area but also has a contemporary character and speaks of our time,” Sebastian Thaut, architect and co-founder of Atelier ST, explains in conversation with Ignant.


Main entrance


The construction, described in the architects’ exposé as “the archetypical house a child would draw,” is composed of a rectangular body and classic triangular roofs. This familiar profile, however, doesn’t only appear once but twice within the project. What at first glance seems like two separate units, slightly offset each other, reveals itself as one connected building. The unique shape gives it its name—Duplex.

"We like it when people are surprised when entering our spaces because they expected something completely different from the exterior.”

By introducing the concept of the two shifted gables, the studio achieved a more defined appearance of the house. It ensured better integration into the neighbourhood without having to compromise on the spatial program. When talking with Co-founder Silvia Schellenberg-Thaut about this distinctive layout, she shares that this deliberate play with illusions is a recurring trait within their practice: “We often include an element of the unexpected and explore the duality of inside and outside. We like it when people are surprised when entering our spaces because they expected something completely different from the exterior.”

The clients’ wish for a house that would age beautifully while requiring only minimal maintenance fueled the decision to opt for a concrete façade. Formed with a framework of irregular and wooden boards, the concrete harmonises with the nearby birches, lime, and maple trees. Circular elements, especially prominent in the windows and entrance doors, complement the geometric interplay of cubes and triangles. “The previous flat of the owners was within the walls of a converted school hall. The place featured round elements in the windows and through a vaulted ceiling,” Schellenberg-Thaut shares their inspiration. “As we realised that the owners quite liked this place but had to move because it has gotten too small, we decided to introduce and reinterpret the round forms in the design of their new home,”—an overarching motif that threads through the entire space.


House view from the garden




Entering the Duplex brings the concept of ‘tough on the outside, soft on the inside’ to life, unveiling a welcoming, protective interior defined by organic shapes and surfaces. “For the project, it was essential to create something like a shell that communicates a sense of safety,” Sebastian Thaut outlines their approach. “To achieve a homey feel, we deliberately worked with smooth elements in the interior. We applied hempcrete insulation, made of hemp fibres mixed with lime, and covered it with clay plaster. This material has a sleek surface and also creates a great acoustic effect, almost like in a cave.”

Ascending the stairs in the foyer leads to the first floor of the building, where the private rooms, such as the bed- and bathrooms, are located. The floors here are crafted from oil-treated, smoked oak that radiates a warm and cosy ambiance. The circular motif finds its continuation in custom-made curved arches and passageways and meticulous details like drawers and light switches. Within the main bedroom, a rough concrete wall from the exterior makes a reappearance and, in the morning hours, serves as a canvas for the first sunbeams that filter through the opposite window. Thoughtfully chosen furniture, such as a nightstand made from a simple tree stump, nods to the adjacent forest and connects the exterior and interior through thematic consistency.

Downstairs, the natural stone Anröchter Grün was selected for the flooring in the corridor, kitchen, and living room—the spaces where the owners also welcome their guests. The smooth surfaces and the rock’s subtle grey-green hues add elegance to the area while contributing to a soft interior. The kitchen furniture, featuring a silky matte moss-green finish, picks up on this colour scheme and creates a visual connection to the surrounding nature. From here, a generous and semicircular door leads into the garden and a lush orchard.


House entrance




Living room




Dining room








Atelier ST Co-founder Silvia Schellenberg-Thaut & Sebastian Thaut

"With its rugged concrete façade and round windows, this structure could easily be located in the south of France—another place very close to the owners’ heart.”

Nestled just a few kilometres outside the centre of Leipzig, amidst meadows, apple trees, and marble leaves, the Duplex is profoundly rooted in its surroundings, both aesthetically and conceptually. At the same time, it also tells stories from distant corners of the globe, as Sebastian Thaut reveals: “Integrating the building into the neighbourhood was crucial for us, but we also wanted to infuse a touch of the world into it. With its rugged concrete façade and round windows, this structure could easily be located in the south of France—another place very close to the owners’ heart.” It is yet another reference seamlessly included in the building’s narrative.

Looking closely at this outstanding residence, it becomes evident that the concept of duality extends well beyond its exterior. The theme weaves through multiple dimensions and materialises through careful design and detailing. By poetically playing with the notion of inside and outside, curves and angles, rough and soft textures, and the delicate balance between openness and privacy, architectural elements are transformed into emotional touchpoints. More than just a ‘house,’ the Duplex is a home that envelops its owners and everyone who visits in a warm and welcoming feeling of Geborgenheit.

Selected Projects
66_Am Feldrand_©Simon Menges4

Am Feldrand © Simon Menges

66_Am Feldrand_©Simon Menges3

Am Feldrand © Simon Menges

111_kunsthaus_©Simone Bossi1

Kunsthaus Göttingen © Simone Bossi

111_kunsthaus_©Simone Bossi3

Kunsthaus Göttingen © Simone Bossi

Mühle Shaving © Simon Menges

Mühle Shaving © Simon Menges

144_Mühle Shaving_©Simon Menges2

Mühle Shaving © Simon Menges

124_Faktorenhaus_©Robert Rieger1

Faktorenhaus © Robert Rieger

124_Faktorenhaus_©Robert Rieger2

Faktorenhaus © Robert Rieger

137_Walther Residence_Millbrook_NY_2©Atelier ST

Walther Residence Millbrook © Atelier ST

137_Walther Residence_Millbrook_NY_©Atelier ST

Walther Residence Millbrook © Atelier ST

Subscribe To Our Newsletter