The Secret of Great Floor Plans

27. June 2018

At company headquarters in Kempen, Ralf Schmitz and Axel Martin Schmitz discuss suites of rooms, individual design and rooms that serve multiple purposes. As early as the 1990s, Ralf Schmitz sensed that his work was changing. “I began then to put more stock in traditional architecture,” he says. The foyer experienced an upgrade; the apartments became larger; the company began arranging rooms with sight lines in mind, so-called enfilades. “Even today it distinguishes us from the competition, the fact that we give our floor plans so much priority. Even if it means higher building costs,” says Axel Martin Schmitz.

Portrait Ralf Schmitz & Axel Schmitz
flooplan with notes
From our Preussenallee development in Westend, Berlin: this ground floor apartment has around 145 sqm of living space plus over 420 sqm of private garden

In standard building, kitchens and baths are organized around the stairwell in order to run the necessary cables and pipes. “But the layout has priority, not the supposed rationality of construction,” says Ralf Schmitz. “We rarely have two identical apartments in one building – even with thirty or more units,” adds Axel Martin Schmitz. Each apartment should function as an individually planned villa. The company would rather react slowly to developments of the day than lose its way among trends.

At the same time, the layouts are highly variable, made possible thanks to the large floor areas and a seasoned sense for the division of space, such as generously designed storage spaces or a small annex off of the living room, which residents enjoy using for work or watching television. “Our kitchen is naturally for cooking, but it also provides space for someone else to help or watch, chat, and eat together,” says Ralf Schmitz. The same holds for the bathrooms: “These are not small compartments where there is no room for design beyond the bathmat.”

„In our approach to floor plans, we are much like the Vatican: true to principle“ – Axel Martin Schmitz

Like the exteriors, the interiors are also oriented on classic architecture, and yet one will not find turn-of-the-century floor plans in RALF SCHMITZ homes. “High ceilings and stucco details give the feeling of a house with history,” says Ralf Schmitz. “But a dine-in kitchen is naturally a very contemporary element that corresponds with how we live today.”

Architects that work for the company understand that floor plans are to be given priority and are not to be subordinated to aesthetics. “Exterior form and floor plan must be weighted proportionally,” says Ralf Schmitz. To deliver ultimate comfort, the company may even occasionally condone asymmetry on the rear side of the building. “In such cases,” Axel Martin Schmitz confirms, “we see ourselves as representing our clients. We are thinking and anticipating on their behalf.”