- Walden Studio
Lead ArchitectsLaurens van der Wal, Lena van der Wal
ClientsDirk Aleven, Marjanne Daggers
EngineeringMD bouwconstructie BV
ConsultantsRasing Bouw BV
CollaboratorsWessel de Jong, Marloes Pieper, Vincent Höfte
Text description provided by the architects. Along the banks of the river Lek near Utrecht, a ‘ribbon’ of houses is situated outside of the winter dike only safeguarded by a lower summer dike. The first of these houses, built in 1910 and measuring 70 square meters, is a comfortable home for two. The owners fell in love with the atmosphere of the village and its beautiful floodplains, so they sought to adapt their home to their growing family.
Their wish was to expand the current dining and living room and to add a bedroom and bathroom on the first floor. The maximum width of this extension was only four meters because of the adjacent natural reserve. Moreover, space for flood water had to be ensured below the house, in case of flooding.
The ‘ribbon’ development along the dike in which the house is situated contains many openings. Inspired by this pattern, a transparent connection was realized between the existing house and the new extension. This glass connection provided the freedom to design a separate character for the extension. By placing the house on columns, the extension floats above the dike, adding extra suspense to the design and creating a sheltered exterior space. The asymmetrical gable roof gestures towards the wide view over the floodplains and is a reference to the shape of historical barns from the region. Additionally, it creates a surface for solar panels oriented to the south. The shape of the extension is modest on the street side, yet proudly overlooks the river, as seen from the garden.
The extension uses the existing stairwell. The living room is situated on the ground floor. On the first floor a bathroom with a skylight can be found and a bedroom with a view over the river. A transparent section connects the original building and the extension and also brings space and light into the compact home.
Detailing and materialization
Inspiration for the black pine wood facade again came from the old barns in the region, which are black from the tar applied to protect the wood. The extension is placed on a steel ‘table’ of columns and beams. On top of this, the extension is made with a wood frame construction. Sustainable, renewable materials have been used such as flax insulation and window frames of Accoya wood. The underside of the extension is covered with Douglas-fir planks.
The extension has a clean detailing as opposed to the historically inspired form and materials. This gives the extension an elegant and contemporary feel, which contrasts on the outside with the original house. Contrary to this approach the inside of the extension corresponds with the feel of the original house in color and materialization. To conclude, the extension is a nod to traditional barns and its shape establishes a connection with its natural and cultural surroundings. As an organism standing on four legs, it stares out over the flora and fauna of the floodplains.