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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Benthem House in Almere, The Netherlands

July 8th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Benthem Crouwel Architekten

The house is one of ten prize-winning designs in a competition, subscri­bed in 1982 in Almere. The brief for the competition was: design a house without bordering for building rules and -restrictions (that is: other than basic structural- and fire prevention-demands). The prize: free use of a building site for a period of 5 years (costs of building for competitors), leaving no traces on site after 5 years. This last restriction was starting-point for a quick design-exercise, starting at 5 am at the last day of entry, with a last minute entry at 4 pm.

Exterior View (Images Courtesy Mr. Jannes Linders)

  • Architect: Benthem Crouwel Architekten
  • Name of Project: Benthem House
  • Location: Almere, The Netherlands
  • Design: Benthem Crouwel Architekten bna, 1982
  • Structural engineering: Benthem Crouwel Architekten bna, Ingenieursburo Starmans, Utrecht
  • Heat and air-technology: Benthem Crouwel Architekten bna
  • Construction: Benthem Crouwel Architekten bna 1983/1984
  • Photographer: Mr. Jannes Linders

If the house had to be removed after 5 years, normal financing would not be possible (unwilling banks, no mortgage), so only small invest­ments, or investments with a high rest-value, re-usable components, would be justified. Leaving no traces on site excludes normal foundation, concrete piling to 15 m, and means: build light and prepare for settings.

Exterior View (Images Courtesy Mr. Jannes Linders)

So we tried to keep investments and weight of the house low, by desig­ning a minimum-house, trying to reduce the number of building components, building materials and the weight of them to an absolute minimum, using as much as possible prefabricated and of-the-peg elements, that could be relocated.

Images Courtesy Mr. Jannes Linders

Basic program for a minimum house for us was: living room, 2 bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen, using the length of a bed (2 m), for the design grid. Basic construction-concept could be: concrete slabs for foundation, space frame for floor-structure (light, strong), corrugated steel for floor and roof, sandwich panels for bed- and service rooms (closed), hardened glass for living room (open), steel wire-ropes for strengthening roof.

Interior View (Images Courtesy Mr. Jannes Linders)

Winning the competition, we were to build the house, this concept appeared very usable. The house has been built by ourselves. It is still occupied by Jan Benthem and family and was enlarged a few years ago (the period of 5 years had been extended). It has proved to be a very nice house to live in.

Images Courtesy Mr. Jannes Linders

At the same time the house was used as a laboratory for our office in which we use a number of building components, techniques, materials and finishes, which we use in our architectural practice. The colour of the house for instance, was a test for a series customs-complex, which our office has built at the Dutch borders.

Images Courtesy Mr. Jannes Linders

Technical description

  • 4 prefabricated concrete factory-floor slabs, 2 x 2 m, 16 cm th., are placed directly on the ground, 4 x 4 m2 and the low weight of the house make ground-pressure, and so possible settings, very small, the slabs, (4 x 1500 kg, more then half the weight of the whole construction) act at the same time as a contra-weight for wind-struction forces.
  • To meet with unequal settings the floor constructional is joined to the concrete foundation slabs by adjustable struts.
  • The floor construction is a combination of the actual floor and a space frame, by using large sandwich panels for the floor it was possible to leave out the upper bars of the frame.

Interior View (Images Courtesy Mr. Jannes Linders)

Technical Installations

  • Because the house is very light (no accumulation-capacity) and has much glass (heat built-up, heat-losses), a hot-air heating system is installed which can react quickly as the weather changes. A heat-exchanger fed by Almere’s central-water-heating system blows the hot air via air ducts to gratings in bed- and service rooms and to the living room, the air is re-circulating. In summertime fresh air is sucked from under the house and blown trough the house via the same ducts (10x/h).
  • Electrics are remote-controlled by a Busch-timac X-10 system.
  • Water outlets are insulated, water inlets to the house insulated and thermostatically heated to prevent freezing.
  • All connections between ground and house are flexible.

Site Plan






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Categories: House, Residential

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