“-Re” House no.4: The Division

Architecture is interconnected with culture, society economy and history. As a science as well as an art, architecture has evolved in incredible ways throughout time. There are beautiful and incredible old designs, however the largest number of residential designs would make people cringe today.
We have learned and we have evolved, so it is more than obvious that our designs would too. As a result I do not tackle the designs of old buildings. My target is comprised of apartments built in the last two decades and not really going further. I believe that anything built in the last 10 to 20 years has no excuse in making gross compromises when better options were possible as well as available.

That being said, this apartment is part of a building built in 1935. This is too far back to be part of the usual debates, however, in the Netherlands old buildings located close to the city center are typically used to house students. The traffic is horrendous for cars, the spaces tend to be small and gardens rather tiny if available at all. So a lot of people tend to divide the houses into apartments  or simply individually rent the rooms.

This apartment is the result of such a division. The ground floor of the building is an apartment on its own while the first floor and the attic form a second one. As the layout of the individual apartments has been created in rather recent years I feel that there were better options and so I will detail bellow as to why I find the present time division inefficient.

old-plan-2_zpsnsqbfu9r Continue reading

“-Re” House no.3: Window Fear (1/2)

The functional style is a strong element in the Dutch residential architecture. A large part of it is indeed practicality. So, from the perspective of the contractor it makes perfect sense to have a limited number of products. It simplifies the task of giving a price estimation, it makes construction faster and eases the life of the building team.

The more the contractors use this approach, the more the clients assume that those are the only available/possible options and decrease their number of demands. However, clients not requesting other options does not exempt architects from the responsibility of providing the best possible architecture.*

One of my architectural “ponderings”** is in regard to the dark, enclosed, rather depressing bathrooms of the modern day apartment. Excepting the situations when there is literally no other option, I never understood why I should give up the pleasure of an aired bathroom, bathed in sun light and fresh air, just for the ease of the contractor and construction team.
Most people today have a windowless bathroom. So the best way to relay this is to take a look at the pictures bellow. The spaces aren’t necessary big, however the presence of a window makes the space feel larger and warmer. Continue reading

“-Re” House no.1: The Design (3/3)

If I would have free reign over this piece of land and its design, this is what i would do:

• I would create a nice intimate garden at the end of the plot allowing in this way the preservation of the back door and the addition of an actual bike shed.
• The south side faces a narrow path between buildings so the windows have to be as small as possible to allow for privacy. Because of this I would make the garden wall as much as possible ot of glass to allow a better connection with the garden and to allow as much light possible inside.
• I would turn the staircase into a main feature of the house and place it beautifully in the center of the space. I would use the space underneath for a bar to add to the kitchen space.
• Through its transparency, the garden glass wall pushes the staircase up front, emphasises its role while in the same time making it lighter and decereasing the psichological space it occupies.
• The landing on the first floor is large enough to allow for either an office space, a library or a reading/relaxation corner. Continue reading