Jeruzalem 23 is an inconspicuous piece of history: Hidden behind a respectably large hedge, the building sits in a quiet historic neighborhood of Velp and hasn't changed much since the year 1900.
Its modest appearance however can be deceiving; the building used to be known as Café Laros and is now listed as a national monument. Since its origin in the 19th century it has served both as a cafeteria and as living quarters - often at the same time - which made for a very lively place altogether.
The cafeteria and home have experienced organic growth over time, and today there are numerous monumental components to be found; from boxbeds, alcoves, and braced doors to exhaustive wall paintings.
Hidden behind the building exists an enormous, 100 meter long garden, complete with orchard, gazebo, and outbuildings like a stable for horses and a pigsty.
We found the building in poor condition - no proper maintenance had been done since the mid-1970s. The most pressing problem was the timberwork, which needed to be restored and partially replaced owing to long overdue paintwork and a couple of leaking rain gutters.
Then there was the verandah which was close to collapsing, the crumbling plasterwork, the uninsulated roof, and the complete lack of interior covering so one would look straight at the roof tiles from inside.
On top of all that the building was poorly renovated in the 70s. Some small rooms were insulated separately and used as bedrooms. But since this intervention was done using vapor-closed materials, we found huge build-ups of moisture in the walls, causing the beams to rot away and the plaster to come off and crumble into dust.
The whole edifice was just begging for structural amendments, so that it would become liveable once more, with a casual upgrade fitted to modern demands.
Kicking off the restoration design, we didn't have to look far for inspiration. The building itself possesses a vast amount of inherent beauty and creative stimuli, so we found enough direct leads for initiating the design process.
The whole building breathes with authentic details: Traces of use by past owners; a unique, organically grown spatial structure; original decorative elements and original furniture.
Our first and foremost goal was to keep these numerous elements of tangible and intangible value intact. In fact, it became our mission to accentuate and strengthen their character by using them as the spatial and architectural point of departure for our design.
This goes both for the external image and the relevance of the interior. Alcoves were kept unimpaired, the tiny bathroom spaces were optimized, the original roof construction was revealed and left in view, and we also used a special type of adjoined glass to preserve the monument glass rather than replacing it.
We deliberately chose to do the renovation in three distinct phases: A first phase to attend to all major construction issues and to make the upper floors habitable; a second phase to attend to the ground floor and extend the (lettable) living space, following a third phase to breathe new life into the cafeteria.
Tackling the renovation in separate phases made sense because of the finance and time-frame involved. We could effectively make the building ready to live while the more time-consuming renovations were being done, rather than for the owners to have to wait out complete renovation.
The start of the renovation consisted of addressing the most immediate structural problems. The whole roof construction was carefully inspected, restored, and replaced where necessary. The interior roof-paneling was finished with insulation-material on the existing rafters, fully insulating the whole roof construction.
A comprehensive design was made to accommodate all renovations to be done to the exterior, while taking into account all plans for interior use, both for the immediate future and for the long run.
In order to make the first floor more habitable, extra roof windows and dormer windows were placed in strategic places. The story also received a completely new layout, consisting of six rooms, a bathroom and a separate toilet.
In the light of future use of the ground-floor, it was the expressed wish to leave the wooden construction of the story-floor in sight from below. This goal was reached by covering the floor with acoustic insulation, which also left us room to integrate a low-temperature floor- and wall heating system.
With the main living-quarters finished and inhabited, attention shifts to the ground floor. This was to become an addition to the main house with a kitchen and living-room, as well as a separate pied-à-terre facing the street to be rented out.
The walls of the whole ground-floor are insulated with a vapor-open material made of wood-fibers, also provided with an integrated wall heating system, which is supplied by a heat-pump, connected to a geothermal heat-exchanger with an open source.
Concerning the monumental café, the focus lies with the preservation of the existing structure and character. The interior will be completely renovated, but all original elements and features will be reincorporated.
The renovation of the cafeteria reintroduces a public function into the building, and hence this space will have a stronger connection to the street. The exterior verandah is already renovated, and provides a nice transition from street to café.
Still, this part of the renovation is a long-term project, as it is both time-consuming and costly. The plan is to make the cafeteria part of a larger public framework, where it can serve as a place where several types of events can be organized. The income generated from this public function will slowly but surely finance the cafeteria's restoration.
As architects we were closely involved with the deliberate and well considered renovation process. This process started in January 2013 and will hopefully be wrapped up in January 2015.
Performing as both spatial and technical advisers, we spent a lot of time on-site, ofttimes with a hammer in hand or laying some bricks. We became something like a partner in crime, which led to us being not only physically but also emotionally involved.
In the course of the renovation process, our activities received a lot of media attention, and the building has since been published in several magazines. Jeruzalem 23 has already become somewhat of a leading example in sustainable restoration projects.
House and Cafeteria
2012 - 2015
Velp, the Netherlands
Partner in charge
Vera FrankenTAK architectenBOOM Delft
Stuijt Bouw, ArnhemHanzebouw, ZwolleDECO Carpet