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.
Villa SR in Rijssen, The Netherlands by reitsema & partners architecten bna
March 14th, 2015 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: reitsema & partners architecten bna
An environmentally friendly example house, connected to its surrounding landscape. The outcome of a close triangular collaboration between the clients, the architects + the construction engineer and the various manufacturers.
When older houses are preserved, it is often because of their recyclability. They have high ceilings, daylight, large rooms and wide doors. But there is one more important reason why we don’t demolish them. We love them, because their architecture is good and because they are made of beautiful materials. Preserve your house, or make a new one with a high long term value, and you make your house more environmentally friendly. By not only looking at the cost of the total investments, but being aware of the monthly costs, sustainable solutions become feasible.
The clients, a married couple in their fifties whose children have left home, in first instance felt that their Villa on the newly acquired dream site in Rijssen should be 350 m2. Nevertheless, after the initial design brainstorm, their first decision was to halve the desired size of the house. With a compact setup priority could be given to good materials and energy-saving solutions over the number of square metres.
A compact setup also meant a chance to focus on the most specific quality of the building location: its view. The Villa was to be built among a number of other villas on a plot on an ordinary residential street but with a most unusual view from the back gardens.
Designed to face this beautiful landscape, Villa SR simply and naturally captures the landscape as a large picture frame, in order to amplify it. It does so, not only for its residents, but also for passers-by, connecting the surrounding landscape with the neighborhood. The carport lies in line with the street plan and just shows the tip of the ‘Holter mountain’ in the distance. Plus in June, exactly at that same spot the sun sets.
The overhang , that in summer is for shade, provides a terrace over the full width of the house. A second terrace is found in the patio behind the brick façade, ideal for breakfast in the morning hours. An additional evening patio can be found in the lee of the carport and is perfectly suited for an intimate dinner. A sliding door makes it possible to close the space off from the streets, while providing shelter from the wind. A setup, which enables the inhabitants to dwell in concurrence with the landscape.
By involving the construction engineer already on a very early stage in the design process, the design team managed to guarantee maximum transparency towards the landscape. The open floor plan is lifted just above the ground, while the concrete roof is supported by solely three 100-mm walls and three 60-mm diameter chrome columns.
Asking the brick supplier to add yellow clay and to fire the batch of bricks very close to the fire of the oven, we were able to create a richness of colors and a glazed look here and there. From the distance the stones look flat and dark, but closer a shiny shade of black and yellow appears, offering a new interpretation of a local product.
Encouraged by the design, father and son – both experienced carpenters – felt enabled to build the villa themselves. Personally involved they were committed to very accurate execution while encouraging the collaborators to improve their performance further. This integrated design approach resulted in a timeless architectural gesture, in which long term value and high comfort per m2 instead of the total numbers of m2 are key. Low-tech, in order to produce high-quality space.
The Villa includes the use of a heat pump, a low temperature floor heating system and a cooling ceiling, combined with high quality thermal insulation. Frames, grilles, curtain rails and other elements are all custom designed and integrated. Guided by the design principle of “less is more”, no distracting elements obscure this Villa’s clarity.
The investigating attitude and ongoing engagement of all parties in designing this sustainable almost energy neutral house resulted in a high quality and poetic architectural dream and ensured a qualitative experience of 160 square metres living space which is many times greater than the original desire.
BRIEF ANALYSIS OF SUSTAINABLE ASPECTS OF THE WORK
A long term cost scope: Economically, a long-term cost scope aiming on minimizing energy spendings and maximizing long term value are key. This project shows how, by looking beyond the initial building costs, and including maintenance, energy consumption and long term spatial value in the scope of a project, quality of living and long-term durability and economic constraints can be united. A valuable design methodology for architects to incorporate sustainability in their designs.
Compact, flexible and energy saving: With a compact setup priority could be given to good materials and energy-saving solutions over the number of square metres, while minimizing maintenance costs. It also led the way to a relatively small amount of installations which, if necessary, can easily be adapted over time. By combining the compact setup with high quality thermal insulation, including a green roof, a heat pump, a low temperature floor heating system and a cooling ceiling and solar panels, energy consumption is minimized, resulting in qualitative space, on the long term. A functionally optimized open floor plan with wide doors, and maximum daylight optimizes its flexibility.
Waste reduction: Opting for well-designed solutions enabled a design optimalisation to such extent that hardly any waste was produced during the construction process.
Cooperatively designed: Socially, the specific design process and the relation with the surrounding neighborhood give the building its spirit. Cooperatively designed and built by the clients, their intensified engagement ensured that the details became high quality and were built very precisely. Through this very direct approach the end-result doesn’t know any compromise, resulting in a high quality building.
Connected to its surroundings: Culturally, the Villa’s connection with the landscape, both in organization as in materialization, prove to play an exemplary role. Offering a view on the landscape, the form of the Villa adds quality to the public space of its surrounding neighbourhood. Offering this distinguishing architectural quality, Villa SR has already shown to inspire other future spatial interventions on similar locations.
Feasibility: Combining the efforts of both designers, manufacturers and clients in a compact setup, guided by an investigating attitude, this Villa could become an extraordinary example project, while remaining affordable. Therefore also becoming an inspiring example of sustainable architecture in terms of feasibility.
Owing to its high ceilings, daylight, large rooms and wide doors, flexible floor plans, adaptable installations and beautiful materials we estimate that this building will easily survive its current users. Closely connected to its surroundings, we trust that its future residents will also learn to love it, just like our clients do now.