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ARCHITECTURE VERSUS NATURE
A beautifully wooded lot in Aerdenhout formed the setting for us to design a villa. For this lot it was determined that the building could not exceed a gutter height of 6 metres. The shape of the building surface, the permitted building height and the required volume required to accommodate the client’s needs, led to a box-shaped volume as the principle design. The box-shape meant that architecturally much was already determined. The next step, then, was to determine the architectural expression needed for this a box, given its green setting. Modern, like a white stucco villa by Le Corbusier or Mies van der Rohe?
In previous times, humanity used to live together with nature. With the industrial revolution, architecture came to dominate nature. And in our time we are again looking for new ways to live in harmony with nature. For this design we went in search, not only of the contrast between architecture and nature, but also of this contrast within the volume itself. We wanted therefore to find expression for the tension within the architecture, between straight forms and natural materials.
The first procedure in bringing out this tension was to ‘soften’ the volume, by applying the “Box in Box” concept. The outer box is partly modified so that an inner box can be seen without destroying the con-tours of the outer box. The second procedure is the choice of material for the outer box and inner box. Both are given a natural appearance, while contrasting with each other in terms of brightness. The outer box was furnished with a dark brick with “Hilversum” dimensions, with a surface that has the appear-ance of rough tree bark. These stones are cemented with “shoved joints”, with deep mortar lines (flushed mortar). In order to emphasise the bark effect, a random selection of 20% of the stones are cemented slightly raised above the wall plane. The window frames in this brick volume are given deep ridges and the frames are placed behind the masonry. This creates a degree of abstraction: the window openings are not visible as window frames but as holes within a solid mass. The inner box is made of oak parts placed vertically, in contrast to the horizontal masonry. The oak is treated with a linseed oil product, so that it retains its natural appearance. The window frames in this volume are also made of oak, so that they too are not highlighted. The layered façade, in what is predominantly a horizontal volume, blends beautifully with the vertical lines of the many tall trees.
The property also has an entire layer below the original ground level. In order to provide this layer with enough light and for it to be accessible by car (garage), quite a few changes to the landscape were need. For this reason, from the very first moments of developing the idea for this project, we worked together with Locus Flevum Tuin & Landschap (Garden & Landscape). The planning of the vicinity of the house was also carried out with respect for the existing nature, while always seeking out the contrast between natural materials and strong forms.
This was certainly a project we had a lot of fun working on.