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Villa 1

Netherlands
1 of 1archdaily

The forest, like most of the Dutch landscape, is manmade. Mostly Douglas Pines were planted there in the 1950s for the production of straight stems that could then be used as beams. The trees became mature enough to be harvested in the 1970s, paradoxically just when it became immoral to cut trees. The landscape thus turned from industrial to being natural. Now the site falls under the local “building-in-nature” regulations, which include a number of restrictions, among which height limitations for the gutter lines and volumetric restrictions for what could be build above ground. Since the spatial needs of the house called for at least twice the volume allowed by the regulations, we designed it upside-down: all day functions above ground and all bedrooms below, but with ample daylight access.

The site has a slight incline. It offers beautiful views on the forest and great sun exposure that we wanted to fully take advantage of. We thus came up with the distinctive Y-shape of the house: every wing is optimally oriented on the terrain and to the sun. There are three wings: one wing for work, studying and music making (North-West exposure); one for cooking and eating (East-South-West exposure); and one for living and painting (South and North exposure). In the basement, the Y-shape creates a similar functional clarity: one wing is for the master bedroom, one for cars and one for storage and guestrooms. A patio provides light for the guestrooms.

Structurally the house is a stack of different industrial building techniques. The basement is cast in concrete. The roof, with extreme cantilevers, is a complex steel structure designed by the audacious structural engineer Gilbert van der Lee. The bookshelf in the North wing is made entirely of solid steel plates and functions as a structural Vierendeel frame stabilizing the structure of the roof.