AD Classics: Bolwoning / Dries Kreijkamp

In the quaint Dutch town of Den Bosch, amongst typical brick-clad homes and winding canals, sits the odd community of Bolwoningen: a cluster of globe-shaped stilt houses punctuated with round windows in a sea of wild vegetation. Built in 1984, these oversized “golf balls” are, in fact, homes: an eccentric product of a relatively unknown architectural experiment conducted by a visionary architect, attempting to impose a new morphological dwelling solution, and hoping to generate a new residential typology. Instead, the bizarre neighbourhood remains a secluded, momentary anecdote in architectural history, and today, provides a glimpse into an age of praised radicalism and irrepressible imagination.

More on these “oddballs” after the break.

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© Gili Merin

In 1980, Dutch architect, industrial designer and sculptor Dries Kreijkamp (1937-2014) began experimenting with new forms of living within spherical spaces. The scheme he produced was simple, and consisted of two interlocking parts: a cylindrical base, accommodating storage and utility spaces, and a self-supporting, three-story fiberglass sphere. The components are connected by a spiral staircase, leading from the ground level to the bedroom, and slightly higher, on an intermediate floor, the bathroom. The uppermost floor (and perhaps the excuse for the cramped bedroom and bathroom below) is the adjoining kitchen-and-living-room: a vast open space penetrated by an abundance of natural light provided by the panoramic round pivot windows.

AD Classics: Bolwoning  / Dries Kreijkamp  - Chair
© Ons Verleden Hedentendage

Well suited for individuals or couples with no children, the total floor space of the design is a mere 55 square meters, spanning 5.5 meters at the sphere’s diameter. Linked by diagonal pedestrian paths, the houses are located close to each other and experienced as discreet units; with no communal outdoor seating or shared courtyards, the design seems to encourage the single-dwellers of the globes to remain introverted and isolated, much like their homes.

AD Classics: Bolwoning  / Dries Kreijkamp  - Facade
© Gili Merin

Kreijkamp's fascination with spheres began a while before his physical manifestation of the Bolwoningens. In 1964, while employed by The Royal Dutch Glassworks making crystal spheres, he argued that round shapes are the most organic form of living: “We live on a sphere, we are born out of a sphere… why not live in a sphere?” [1]

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© Gili Merin

Kreijkamp was not only formally poetic, he was also a rationalist who boasted the sustainable advantages offered by spheres: the assembly of the homes, composed entirely of prefabricated parts, could be carried out in a single day, and with a low energy consumption and easy maintenance, the houses were highly economical. His homes at Den Bosch weigh only 1250 kg, even less than Buckminster Fuller’s famously lightweight Dymaxion house.

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© Ons Verleden Hedentendage

Kreijkamp’s vision was never entirely fulfilled; according to him, the Bolwonings have an enormous potential and endless applications, including linking the spheres together, designing custom-made accessories, mobile prototypes and even floating and hovering globes. Unfortunately, he passed away before convincing the world of the merit of his ideas and the materialization of his visions were put to rest. Nevertheless, the ambition, innovation and imagination inherent in the project will continue to inspire architects and designers to constantly challenge the existing paradigms.

[1] (translated from Dutch to English)

's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands

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Address:Bollenveld 20, 5235 NN 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands

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Cite: Gili Merin. "AD Classics: Bolwoning / Dries Kreijkamp " 07 Feb 2015. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

© Gili Merin

AD 经典: 球屋 / Dries Kreijkamp

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