Today we are looking at a special project in the Flemish village of Eben Emael in the Netherlands. The extension to this home is particularly interesting, as what you see from the front is not at all a reflection of what is hidden at the rear. Carried out by Artesk van Royen Architects, the agency sees architecture not only a way in which we build and design structures, but also as a comprehensive way of thinking. Paying great attention to the location and existing building, the architects have made sure the new face of the building is seamlessly integrated. This article highlights one of the many projects by this firm which have a strong connection to their context and surroundings. Take a look…
The tall, narrow building in this photo, as we mentioned in the introduction, is located in Eben Emael, just south of Maastricht. The house stands in a special environment, in a street parallel to the Jeker river. The house, which dates back to the beginning of the 19th century, has a stellar view of the river from the rear. The exterior is typical to the area, and is well connected with the other buildings that make up the streetscape.
Also typical to this Dutch region is the close proximity of the house to the hills. From this view, we can see that interestingly, the entrance at the street is pitched at a higher level than the back. You'll also notice the totally different material quality and texture here than at the front. Before the extension, the home lacked connection with its lush garden. Therefore, Artesk van Royen Architects came to the rescue to not only increased the internal footprint of the home, but created a new found relationship between inside and out.
From this angle, we can see a detailed view of the extension, which is clad vertically with larch wood. To add yet another point of difference, the wood will change stain and colour when submitted to different weather conditions over time. To improve the environmental impact of the home, sustainably certified wood has been used, as well as reused materials.
Looking from the top of the stairs down to the ground floor, we can appreciate how the extension feels from inside. This modern staircase leads down to the new basement which sits flush with the backyard. It represents the new, smart solution that the architects have envisaged to create continuity between the built form and nature. In this image, it certainly feels as though we are not dealing with the same home as evidenced in the prior images—a real optical treat for those that have the pleasure of stepping foot inside.
On the ground floor we find the living room, kitchen and dining area, which are nicely connected to one another through a large opening in the wall. This opening allows the natural light from the dining room to illuminate the kitchen, instantly brightening up the space. You can see a real melange of furniture styles and fixtures here, via the retro themed tiled floor, ornate furniture, lack of borders, and cornice work on the walls.
From the combined kitchen and dining area, you can see the spectacular setting the home is set amongst. Packed with period features, this space is reminiscent of the historic mills and castles of the area. Only three kilometres away you will stumble upon the Dutch-Belgian border, where the countries meet via a series of slopes, meandering steams and tree-lined streets.
This picture really couldn't be omitted from the ideabook. The impressive panorama shows us exactly where the house is positioned in relation to its landscape, and gives us some sort of idea as to how minuscule the built form is when compared with nature. Before, we had a quaint rural home on the border of two historic countries, now, we have a property that extends from inside out, surprising those who come off the street and are treated to the marvel that is held at the rear.
To see another example of two-faced architecture, check out the following ideabook: Period home meets modern extension