Minions Taking Over

A family of modular houses called Bert that bears a striking resemblance to minions, explores, experiments and creates playfulness and curiosity to experience architecture and nature through the eyes of children. 

The first collaboration of Precht with Baumbau, a start-up that specialises in tiny homes, treehouses and buildings for alternative tourism, Bert is conceptualised as a treehouse which is shaped by the forest. Like a trunk of a tree, the building connects to the soil on a minimal footprint. All functions are stacked above and branch out in different directions. The interiors are kept in dark fabric which creates a cozy, cave-like atmosphere and orients the views towards the large glass openings. The leaf-like shingles on the facade are kept in various shades of browns and camouflages the structures with the natural background.  For regions with little cultivated forestry and wood-craftsmanship, the main wood-structure can be replaced by steel.

Although Bert was designed as a tiny home, it is also possible to arrange the modules in larger configurations. From garden houses to multifamily homes to hotels or developments in the city.  Bert is conceived as a modular building system and all its parts are prefabricated in a factory and put together on site. Throughout its life span, Bert is flexible to grow taller and wider by adding new modules.  Bert is developed as an independent character with solar panels either on roof or off-site, a composting toilet and a water treatment facility on the ground floor.

“We are aware that architecture is a serious and profound craft with a long culture and tradition. You see that when we as architects find reference for our projects in art, philosophy, literature or nature. For this project, we took a playful look at this project and wanted to create a unique character than a conventional building. A quirky looking character that becomes part of the wildlife of a forest. I think this quirkiness can create feelings and emotions. And maybe these are attributes in architecture that are missing these days,” says Chris Precht, the architect.

The modular system of Bert makes it easy to react to a client’s brief in real-time. The client informs the architects about the desired programme, like bedrooms, kitchen, living room, library, and bathroom, after which they can immediately create different variations of arrangements with all necessary information of cost, size, schedule, etc. This gives the clients certain transparency about things that keep uncertain during a common design process for a long time.

‘We believe that the future of tourism is not in large hotels and mass tourism, but rather in special buildings that offer a unique experience. With Bert, we cater to the people who seek adventure, nature, and inspiration’, says Rudolf Obauer, CEO of Baumbau. Bert is the first treehouse conceptualised for Baumbau. “During the next months, we will announce the further collaboration with architects and designers to create a catalog of unique buildings.”

Bert was designed by Studio Precht for Baumbau in 2019. The smallest structures of Bert start at 120.000€ and can be upgraded and extended by add-ons and modules. The first structures are expected to come out in spring 2020.

By Aarthi Mohan

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