Alison & Peter Smithson: Hexenhaus. A House for a Man and a Cat
A poetic work with lattices and built-fabrics
Alison & Peter Smithson
A&P Smithson Hexenhaus-Archiv & Walther König, 2021
It all began with a letter in May 1984, signed by a tom-cat in Bad Karlshafen, addressed to another tom-cat in London. In the letter, the cat known as Sir Karl, writing on behalf of his butler Axel Bruchhäuser, commissioned Snuff – the cat belonging to architects Alison & Peter Smithson – to construct two lookouts for his “Hexenhaus”. The letter marked the start of a fateful collaboration between Axel Bruchhäuser and the architects, the prelude to permanent alterations to the Hexenhaus – itself a poetic construct of lattices and built-fabrics. Step by step, the house was expanded and opened to admit the light as well the trees, which became part of the interior. The Hexenhaus is a testament to the early, radical style of the Smithsons, to the corrective and anti-aesthetic character of their finest designs – and at the same time, a monument to the professional work of Alison & Peter Smithson.