architect_ Mecanoo architecten
location_  Hilversum, Netherlands
project year_ 2010
photography_ Pedro Kok and Marcel van der Burg

design_  Dick van Gameren
landscape architect_ Michael van Gessel, Amsterdam commission 2008
structural engineer_ Breed ID, Den Haag
interior designer_ IDing, Amsterdam
client_  Private contractor Bouwbedrijf L. Post en Zonen, Urk

from the architects_
A simple bungalow dating from 1967 on a hexagonal ground plan had been radically altered and modified through the years. Although this had made the house bigger, it had also become increasingly inward-looking. The expanding wings were steadily enclosing the heart of the house with the hall and living quarters, and direct contact between the house and the magnificent surroundings was largely lost. The original detailing and material form were consistently adhered to during all previous interventions but the result was now thoroughly outmoded and of a poor technical quality. The house has now been given its fourth look.

The principle guiding this most recent intervention was to create a more sustainable house that is able to reinstate the lost relationship between it and the landscape. Keeping as close as possible to preserving the existing house was the first step towards a sustainable end-result. With the existing structure as the basis, the outer walls and roofs were modernized by adding insulation and replacing all windows and larger areas of glazing. The walls in the central section of the house were removed to create a new living hall looking out onto the surroundings on four sides. In addition, the physical bond between house and landscape has been consolidated by an all-glass pavilion attached to the living hall that reaches out to the brook flowing past the house.

Sustainability has been crucial in informing all components of the design, construction and daily use of the house. The idea for the design was to practically consider how the house could be least taxing on the environment in both the short and the long term. Key points of departure were maximum reuse of built elements and materials already on site and the use of sturdy and proven techniques to achieve the lowest possible energy consumption.

integration into the environment
A floor heating system has been laid into the new concrete deck floor that can heat or cool the rooms using low temperature heating. A second system has been installed in the bedroom ceilings to facilitate additional cooling in summer. Another source of cooling is by means of a roof-top pump that draws up water from the brook and sprays it onto the roof. The living room heats up quickly in winter by being oriented to the south and having all-glass facades, and thus serves as a heat source for the house as a whole. Ventilation of the house is premised on the natural circulation of air throughout the building. Much of the furniture is built-in and where possible made of sustainable materials: bamboo wooden floors, Ecoplex (poplar) laminate kitchen cupboards and felt furniture and curtains. The new garden layout is informed as much as possible by the replanting of existing trees and shrubs. This gives a greater openness to the plot, but also privacy where this is required. The emphasis on sustainability facilitates the integration of the home into its environment.

Courtesy of Mecanoo architecten.