Text description provided by the architects. For its latest project, emerging Dutch practice Bláha Architecture + Design has completed a four-storey designed-to-rent townhouse in The Hague, the Netherlands. The project was commissioned in 2014 by a private client that wanted to redevelop an existing property for investment purposes. 334 Sumatrastraat is located on a typical 19th-century street of middle class housing in Archipel, The Hague.
The project transforms a dilapidated 1880-terraced house into a home that can be let out as a whole house, or as two separate apartments with their own front doors. To create a generous space Bláha has made a number of key moves, including converting the roof into a bedroom, adding a courtyard garden, and extending the property by an extra 2.5m across the rear on every floor to create further floor area and external terraces, as well as a completely contemporary rear facade.
From the front, the main facade has been restored to its original design. The only modification is the additional two dormer windows on the roof. The original brickwork has been repointed, and the timber windows and roof replaced. Inside however, the house has been completely renovated, with only a handful of existing elements retained because of the poor state of the building. Rather than replace these elements, Bláha has turned the inside into a contemporary living space that juxtaposes old with new. From the outside, visitors will expect a historical property complete with small rooms, but on entering they will find light-filled, expansive spaces, characterised by clean lines, neat storage solutions and a palette of whites, greys and natural materials.
This surprise begins on the ground floor, which occupies the entire 28m-deep plot. Designed as a ‘big loft’, the 102m2 space can function as a garage/workshop to tenants, or as a separate live/work studio. An exciting move has been to claw back some of the filled in rear to create a walled courtyard, which has access to the terrace above via a steel stair.
Upstairs, the contemporary theme continues. Bláha has created a new core in the centre of the northern party wall. This core contains an open stairwell and acts partially as a cloakroom on the first floor, complete with closets and a WC, then as a landing on the second floor. On the first floor, this core opens onto a long double aspect living space, with a sitting area towards the front, and a kitchen and dining area to the back that in turn opens onto a large terrace through full-height glazing. This open space can then be sub-divided by sliding walls on either side of the core to create more intimate spaces. The kitchen is a pared back design focused around an impressive and sophisticated Carrera marble island – a material that continues throughout the house for fire surrounds, as well as in the bathrooms and WCs.
Continuing upstairs, the upper two floors are for sleeping. On the second floor is a central marble bathroom sandwiched between a bedroom to the rear with a new terrace that looks over the surrounding back gardens, as well as a room to the front of the house that has access via a white steel stair to a mezzanine bedroom on the third floor in the converted attic. This ante space can be either used as a home office or dressing area. The sleeping area on the floor above, meanwhile, also has full-height glazing and doors opening onto another generous new terrace.