Cuddly Monster

Cuddly Monster

Single-family House in Berlin-Pankow

In Berlin-Pankow, a green monster is grinning out from between the usual buildings. But don't be scared, it is only a single-family house.

I know, it is childish and banal: houses have faces from time to time. Especially windows do often look like eyes. But there is hardly a building showing faces as clearly as this single-family house, designed by brandt + simon architekten and completed in 2009. Grinning faces!

The building in question is located in Berlin-Pankow, next to the district boundaries of Prenzlauer Berg, where four-storied apartment houses dominate the neighbourhood. The grinning monster nestles up against the firewall of such an apartment house, like a funny parasite that is, with its two floors, as high as two thirds of the height of its host.

Double Combinations

The house consists of several double combinations. First of all, there is the floor plan, consisting of an almost square and a trapezoidal part. Different roofs correspond with both parts: the trapezoidal one has a flat roof, whereas a pitched roof rests on the square part. This combination of a flat and a pitched roof area is inspired by the architecture of the adjacent apartment houses.

Pixels or Foliage

Apart from the windows, the façade of the building is entirely clad in altogether 8350 plain tiles. Those are painted in different shades of green, following top down a colour gradient from bright to dark. The varying colour of the tiles creates the impression of pixels or, when merging with trees and bushes, of foliage. At the same time, the tiles are supposed to remind of painted ceramic tiles found in the house fronts of the client's home country, called “Azulejos”.


The grinning faces in the green monster façade result from a combination of very wide windows with clearly visible glazing bars – the toothed mouths – and smaller windows above – the eyes. The actual purpose of those windows is of course not the creation of funny faces but to offer optimal natural lighting of the premises. Only the library has a series of small windows in deep reveals, in accordance with its introverted use.

Eco Monster

It is not only the outer appearance of the building that is “green”. Since underfloor heating in all rooms of the wooden structure, as well as the use of solar thermal energy for heating water limit the annual heating demand to only 35 kWh/m² and the primary energy demand to 53,9 kWh/m². Solar thermal energy is also used to support the heating of the house if needed, and a gas condensing boiler can be used additionally if required.


By the way, this single-family house lies on a plot of land that used to be part of a nursery. Fittingly, besides the lawn, there shall be fruit trees and vegetables in the garden. Hence, children as well as adults are likely to enjoy this extraordinary project. And don't let yourself be fooled by terms with negative connotations like monster and parasite. The author of this article is a huge fan of this creature that has become a house.

Project details


brandt + simon architekten (Berlin)


Completion: June 2009


effective area: 160 m²

living space: 155 m²


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Asitkumar Aich 29. September 2013 - 18:07


Anila Mehrotra 30. September 2013 - 9:58