One of the most prominent aspects of a design, if not the most important, is the consideration of the context and environment in which the proposed design will be found. In the case of the Dutch House by Rem Koolhaas, the unique and very challenging environmental conditions and topography of the site led to a design with interesting conditions that respond to these conditions. More on the Dutch House in The Netherlands after the break.
Not only is the design limited to a four-meter height restriction, it was to be situated on a highly uneven topography yet maximize space for specific program in the private-residence. Given the difficult site, Koolaas took it upon himself to incorporate a house both above and below ground, accommodating four bedrooms, a kitchen, living room, study and two terraces.
Program is based on the permanent occupancy of the two parents and the temporary and visiting occupancy of their three grown-up daughters. For times without visitors or daughters, the house is kept at a manageable scale through a programmatic split and literal slab. The intentions remained to maximize the total program while minimizing the amount of formal gestures.
At the most basic level, one wall appears to wrap around as it defines a continuity of interior spaces and patios that function as the living spaces for the visiting daughters, remaining introverted and grounded. The wall contains all of the functional elements which allows the space surrounding it to be free and open within their glass box enclosure. A deck which appears to float becomes the supporting structure for the program of the parent’s living quarters. Connecting the two is a pivoting bridge and horizontal door that contributes patio spaces and service entries to both bedroom units.
This dual relationship is further emphasized and expressed through the use of multiple different treatments of glass and uses of shadings according to program and orientation. Bridging the dichotomy (literally and figuratively) is a central ramp, which provides functional and visual connections between the two separate programmatic systems.
The site, totaling 5,000 square meters, is embedded in golden “beachsand” in a forest of pine in The Netherlands. Restrictions were not limited to the difficult site, but were found in the requirements of maximum height and distance from the adjacent road (both four meters). The literal interpretation of the regulations gave Koolhaas a fundamental frame which would dictate the boundaries of possible length and height. In terms of vehicular circulation, a drive-through path was carved out to enable successful and efficient accessibility and exiting. Architect: Rem Koolhaas Location: The Netherlands Project Year: 1995 Photographs: OMA References: OMA, El Croquis, Lucy Bullivant