Ying and Yang House: An Off-grid Nature-integrated Residence in Germany

Designed by Penda, the Yin + Yang House is located in the German city of Kassel, which is situated on the Fulda River in northern Hesse. Led by designer Chris Precht, Penda design team designed the Ying and Yang house for an unconventional family that wants to live off-grid and prefers to enjoy the nature of the countryside.

Courtesy of Penda Austria

This house was not only inspired by nature but is also completely integrated within the natural environment. To compensate for the built-up area of the house, the design attempts to return the same amount of land taken away from nature. The same area occupied by the house’s footprint is given back to nature through a large terraced roofing garden.

‘Whenever architects design a building, they take an area away that used to belong to nature,’ say the architects.

‘We try to give this space back to plants on the roof. at the same time, we provide a gardening-system for the owners with greenhouses in winter and rows of planters for the rest of the year.’

Courtesy of Penda Austria

The family living in the Ying and Yang House can enjoy this green space in the summer, in addition to an interior greenhouse which they use more during the white winter months. The rooftop includes a cozy dining area which can be used most of the year.

The idea of Ying and Yang appeals to the family’s needs where the Ying represents work and Yang represents life. At first glance, the Ying and Yang concept appears to be symbolic, however, it is more than just an icon. The design brings together the living and working spaces in the house so that they suit the lifestyle of the family.


Courtesy of Penda Austria

The roof garden is a complete fruit garden with vegetables, herbs, and fruits that allow the family to become self-sufficient and grow their own meals. Conceived as two separate yet intertwined zones connected with one green roof, the Ying and Yang house form helps to channel rainwater to the ground through the sloped area.


Courtesy of Penda Austria

The rainwater is stored and re-used to irrigate the plants when the weather is dry.

Courtesy of Penda Austria

Chris Precht says that he also employs the idea of food-independence in his own home and that this is a part of their vision at Penda.  ‘My wife Fei and I are also living in a small house in a rural area of Austria, and the biggest advantage of the countryside is the quality of life,’ says Precht, ‘especially when it comes to growing your own food.’


Courtesy of Penda Austria

Related article: Penda Reveals Design of “Tree Tower Toronto” Constructed Using Cross-Laminated Timber

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“Food is a common good and should not be owned by a handful of cooperations. if we work on food-strategies and food-independencies for our communities, we believe that architects and their buildings need to play an important role.’

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