The house Herman Haan build for himself and his wife Hansje, on a piece of land at the edge of Rotterdam where the debris of the demolished city centre during a bombardment in 1940 was collected, is radically open. It consists of two elongated volumes: an elevated, ‘floating’ open volume with the living room above and a small architect’s studio underneath half of this volume, and a second, closed volume with garage and two small bedrooms. In-between is a double height, open space that serves as an entrance lobby and that connects both volumes.
The main feature of the living room volume is the set of four glass sliding doors, that can all be opened at the same time, thus literally opening the living room to the outdoors and the view over one of the main entrance roads of the city (and Haan did not believe in the use of curtains either!). Another feature is the open kitchen, if not one of the first in architecture, then certainly of one the most radical open kitchens ever. It consists of a simple, small cooking table with a ‘floating’ kitchen sink that stands in the middle of the living room and is connected to the open fire chimney only. Cooking is a social activity, so Haan had learned in Africa.
The bricks of the closed bedroom volume, that are also used in the interior, are re-used pavement bricks from the quays of the Rotterdam harbour. An old poplar tree that stood on the site, and could not be saved anymore, was cut into veneer and used as a finishing layer of cupboards all around the house. Parts of the stone flooring was salvaged from the rubble heap on which the house is build. The house is still standing, but the radical openness proved to be too much for the current owners. It is now surrounded by a high wall of conifers, and parts of the glass facades are closed off.