Farmyard transformation on ‘t Rozendael–‘t Nijenhuis estate; two detached new homes and a studio/shed
VANDERSALM-aim designed two residences and a studio on ‘t Rozendael–‘t Nijenhuis estate. In the context of the ‘Red for Red’ scheme, the barns/stables of the existing farm on the site were demolished to make way for two new residential objectives. The new arrangement now constitutes a modern farmyard, together with the volume of the existing farm. The positioning of the dwellings suggests the privacy of a farmyard, yet provides specific views of the open pastoral landscape as well.
The clients are friends, two couples with young adult children. The most important point of departure for the organizational structure of both houses is ‘living with the landscape’. With that, the field of tension between privacy and scenery is quite relevant. The existing farm is a duplex (front house/rear house), but due to the chosen situation of the new volumes, relevant sight lines remain intact and private areas are created without a view of the neighbours. Continuous garden walls serve to encompass the dwellings in the ascending essenstructuur (series of different ground levels originated true time - typical Dutch landscape). This walled area therefore becomes readable as an ‘outdoor room’, and is visually part of the interior space. The landscape planning of this outdoor room does not stop at the garden wall, but continues with the vegetation to the higher level of ground. Concrete steps provide access to this space. As a result, there is always a connection with the landscape in size and scale from inside the dwellings, and the colour and daylight of the changing seasons form a valuable part of living in this place.
The project reflects an interpretation of local barn typologies in a contemporary manifestation. The farmyard appears modest and private due to the dark colour scheme and wooden slats. On the other facades, high framed openings offer an unlimited view over the landscape. The garden walls continue through the plinths of the buildings, an upwards extension of the same stones as the pavement. These are glued, not mortared, so that the texture of the paving becomes a ‘stone carpet’ and thus comprises a solid base for the residences. The houses are constructed with a custom-made wooden loadbearing structure without visible joining elements. Aside from its bearing function, the structure acquires the character of a furniture element. It remains visible throughout and refers to the shed; clear, pragmatic, and sober, but nonetheless finely detailed. In the absence of solutions based on complexity or appearance, the design decisions are solely grounded in materiality, tectonics, and the landscape.
The residences are virtually energy neutral; they are very well-insulated, gas-free, and equipped with an air source heat pump. Each house has roughly 40 photovoltaic (PV) panels which are incorporated in a separate sunken field situated at the edge of the plot, next to the parking area. Electric cars can be charged in the parking area, and there is no parking on the farmyard terrain. Both residences have a spacious indoor veranda on the south side, which provides a natural heat buffer during the summer and protection for the greater part of the year. Stack ventilation allows heat within the dwelling to be effectively vented through the skylights above the interior voids. The triple glazing with UV-protective coating provides a heat buffer in the summer and prevents cold traps during the winter. The ground floor is equipped with low temperature heating and has a high efficiency due to the monolithic concrete flooring. The building materials are of top quality and comprised primarily of wood.
The kind of architecture pursued in this fundamental concept required precise design, to the millimetre. Existing architectural systems were adapted, and in some cases redesigned, in the project. All of these findings were independently formulated, resulting in the project consisting of some 150 drawings and details. For instance, facades are denoted by plank sizes (including the shutters and doors), the hinges and locks are made by a blacksmith, and custom interior elements are an inherent part of the dwellings. The project was built with a great amount of care and attention, and during the implementation it was closely supervised by the architect’s office to achieve the base principles and quality set down in the design. Now the project just needs time to gradually become part of the landscape.
VANDERSALM-aim is an office driven by architectural mastery. The architect as master builder approaches his field from a maker’s standpoint and focuses on affection (love for the built environment and the landscape), well-being (groundedness), and the built object as a matter of course (tectonics).