The East of Holland holds much natural beauty; large wooded areas, lush green meadows, with farm-buildings sprinkled throughout. It was in such a location that we were asked to redevelop an old farm complex.
The main building on site is a beautiful monumental farmhouse, to be kept in its original state. Supporting this farmhouse exist numerous outbuildings, in varying states of upkeep.
The initial brief was simple: For each building you destroy you can erect a new one. With the possibility to take down some of the lesser outbuildings came the wish to build a new villa - integrated with the other buildings but fitted with modern convenience.
This villa was to become the main accommodation for the owners of the site, while in the future their daughter could take up residence in the original farmhouse, providing company and care.
The design of the house follows two central ideas which both help to anchor the building in its surroundings.
First, the building is designed in the image of the traditional local barn, such as they are found in the local countryside. This regional icon is then combined with another - more international - tradition: that of the Icelandic "peat-house".
This means that the roof of the building will be completely covered with plants, essentially raising the ground level up and over the house. The house is molded into the surrounding meadows, while creating living space below.
Thus the building becomes a good-sized barn, with a large overhanging green roof, clad in oak clapboards, with traditional white barn windows.
The traditional image is infused with a large glass façade built out of a sturdy oak post-and-beam construction. This open façade provides an unimpeded view towards the surrounding woodland, essentially becoming another means of letting nature and light run up and into the building. The adjacent living room becomes a spacious, bright, and airy vide, with an open staircase leading up to the mezzanine above.
The large glass façade was one of the first requirements in the design brief, and exemplifies the idea of indoor-outdoor space, giving protection from the elements while providing optimal circumstance to enjoy the bliss of living in the countryside.
The green roof also serves more than one purpose; its application offers large advantages in the areas of energy and ecology. The roof prevents excessive heating in summer, and because of its capacity to absorb water it relieves the sewage system by as much as 90%.
The complete construction of the house consists of a solid timber-frame skeleton of laminated trusses and regular wooden balusters and beams.
The space between the trusses is filled in with a cellulose insulation material (paper flakes) which provides a 'damp-open' wall composition, having a very high insulation value. Combined with the triple glazing windows, this results in a very well balanced indoor climate which only needs to be minimally heated.
The window-frames peak through the wooden clapboards on the outside, while on the inside they're intentionally left 'blank' to contrast with the clean white interior.
The complete ceiling and walls of the home are clean and white, with the exception of the beams in the floor of the 1st level, which are left 'blank' like the window-frames. This contrast continues exactly in the opposite way when the white ceiling extends out past the glass facade and turns into the fascia wrapping around the roof.
The floor-plan hinges on the contrast between smaller, lower, more intimate rooms and the large open space of the living room. Moving through the house, there's a sense of compression or expansion when passing from one space to another.
The height differences, vide, and interior wall placement all contribute to the notion of creating spaces within spaces - to define a definite individual space while still being connected to the larger whole.
In such a way the floor-plan becomes simple and easily readable: an entrance-way with two serving wings on each side, with an unexpected turn and peak into a large space, which then opens up into the beautiful main living area, with views expanding widely into the surrounding woodlands.
The large open mezzanine completes the picture, being yet another individual space while still safeguarding that feeling of openness, of being connected first to the people in the house and second to the countryside.
As architects, we were closely involved with the construction process - which started in March 2014. Even during the later phases of construction we were still operating as advisers, making alterations to details and recommendations where needed. This all in close collaboration with constructor and principal, resulting in a rather smooth erection of the edifice.
After the positioning of the basement and realization of the concrete foundation, the entire wooden framework was built from the ground up, with window-frames already in position. This framework was filled in with the cellulose insulation material between columns and rafters.
While placing the exterior oak clapboards, the inside was finished simultaneously with all installations in place. After placement of kitchen and bathroom, the inner walls were finished, and as a final step, the roof is sown, for a diverse vegetation of grass and herbs.
2012 - 2014
Almen (Lochem Municipality)
Partner in charge
Peter Bedner Studio Frank van Schadewijk OMC advies