7.6.2011

Fabric Façade Studio Apartment in Almere, The Netherlands

La casa está construida en una de las 350 parcelas asignadas para construcciones particulares en el barrio de Homerus de Almere, cerca de Ámsterdam. Estos edificios no son muy comunes en Holanda debido a su alta densidad de población y a las escasas tierras disponibles. En este caso, estas parcelas, que forman parte del plan urbano de OMA, tenían requisitos de edificabilidad muy estrictos. El cliente optó por concentrar el volumen de la casa en el frente de la parcela. Sus requerimientos eran: en la planta baja un estudio de arte y su espacio de exposiciones, y en los pisos superiores la vivienda.

The house is built on one of the 350 plots designated for construction by private owners in the Homerus quarter of Almere near Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Private building is, in the Netherlands with its high population density, not extremely common as land is scarce.

These “Herenhuis” plots, part of the OMA urban plan, had strict envelop requirements: minimal and maximal heights depending on the position: at the front (min/max 7-14m), middle (4m) or rear (4-7m). The client chose to concentrate his volume in the front part of the plot. Another urban planning requirement was that the ceilings at ground level should be higher than usual (have a clearance of 3.5m) so that that the ground floor space is both suitable for residential and work functions.

The client’s assignment was: downstairs an artist’ studio and exhibition space and on the top floors the living space. The principal, Rob Veening, had lived in Canada for many years, and expressed the clear wish that the house should not be minimally seized and narrow (like many Dutch residences) but spacious, open and giving one a sense freedom of movement; a dream assignment for space loving designers, with the added challenge of a very limited budget.

The sense of space is created by making a continuous connection between all rooms of the house. The artist’s studio downstairs is connected to the living room on the first floor by one of the atriums and the ground floor thereby also gets more light deep into the studio space through this extra 1st floor window.

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In the middle of the building volume a central atrium was carved out, with at the top a skylight, visually connecting the entire upper floors to the living space and creates a good light quality and feeling of freedom. Additional advantage is that the study / TV room, top level street side, did not then need windows nor received them to save costs. Due to the split-level in the front part of the living room the ceiling height reaches 4.5 m giving it a real mansion (“herenhuis”) quality. The dimensions of the doors are 3.5 m width x 2.7 m height and this also contributes to this sense of openness. But due to all those large measurements the scale of the building is quite difficult to read and can only be measured by comparing it with the traditional sizes of the neighbouring house.

To fit all this space in to the budget, costs had to be saved and a number of measures, some of which innovative, were taken that influenced both the process and the final result.

The greatest advantage was that the client had built his own house before in Canada and understood very well the uncertainties connected to any building process and was not afraid of meeting setbacks. Also he intended to do most of the interior work himself so there was certain elasticity in what would be his part and what part of the contractor would do. The result was that contractor made the house (hull) wind and waterproof after which the client finished the rest (stairs, insulation, interior finishes, interior walls, doors, equipment and installation of the external cladding).

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