Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Architecture Wednesday: The Dune House

When the owners of the Dune House designed it, an important design topic was how to connect the form house with the place where it is situated,  in the dune area of Bergen aan Zee, North Holland. 

There were many restrictions on where to build, as well as how to build; the allowable floor surface of just 66 x 26 feet, with a gutter height of 10 feet. Since the ridge height was not indicated a maximum height of 50 feet was allowed. These proportions made it necessary to build the house vertically, in three floors.

One of the main concerns was that, in its appearance, the high tall form had to fit in the dune landscape, so the shape of a dune or a windswept group of trees sloping along with the worn landscape near the sea was chosen. The openings in the roof surface were designed from within: at the sea side as horizontal window strips and at the dune side as a huge window, where it is possible to imagine oneself in the midst of the dune landscape. The flat facade on the eastside allows for an eventual elevator and balconies. 

Since the house is only 985 feet from the sea, the owners took the logical decision to choose for natural, sustainable and low maintenance materials. The finishing of the eaves has been carried out in zinc and has been pre-treated against ionization, which beautifully matches the wall tiles. The untreated wooden frames are made of Iroko, handpicked to have the longest parts, in order to avoid gluing as much as possible. The reason to use untreated wood stems from its low maintenance aspect, which also fits into the natural surroundings.

The low-tech approach continues on the inside also. The owners wanted the two floors as one big, rudimentary finished space, which can then be used as a flexible living space. One of the wishes has always been to live on the upper floors because of the sea and dune views, and by applying Douglas fir pillars with bark, they carried the effect of the windswept trees around the house into the interior in an abstract way.

On the ground floor are storage, studio, bathing room, library, workout room and conference room. The inner walls and doors on the ground floor are non-bearing, so to be as flexible as possible, and made of ecoplex and mdf. The stairs have been placed into the space as loose elements, and are made of poplar, so as to be as environmentally friendly as possible. This kind of wood is soft but very dense, and has no knots. The beautiful light color does not turn yellow, so it can remain untainted. Only the stair steps need some extra protection. The floor finishing consists of poured concrete and the hanging wooden floor slab between the trees has been covered with sea weed carpet.

It's a dune house, that looks like the dunes, surrounded by trees both inside and out.


1 comment:

Ron said...


I'm sending this one to my Candadian minimalist friend Pat. He's looking for a new house plan for when he moves to Delaware from Toronto.