-Re House

“-Re” House no. 15 – For Daredevils

“-Re” House together with “-Re” Adapt are two series part of a project in which I review, refine and redesign residential projects available on the Dutch housing market. “-Re” House touches projects that have been completed after the year 2000 and could have been done more efficiently to begin with, while “-Re” Adapt looks at how to better adapt older residential architecture that was designed in a different cultural and historical context.

Later edit: The design choice I have made for the bedroom in “-Re” House no 15 and “-Re” Adapt no 10 has proven to be my most controversial so far. The reactions have been strong and equally divided between “I don’t look out the window when I sleep” and “You can’t have a bedroom without a window!”. Both reactions are perfectly valid, and are based on differences in personality, priorities, cultural influences and life style. This once again comes to emphasis the fact that architecture works at its best as a tailored design and not a mass produced product.

Getting back to the design at hand, I live in a typical modern Dutch block of flats, where in order to minimize the amount of staircases used, the individual front doors are reached using a series of pathways/balconies located in the interior garden/space. To make use of the privacy of the garden, all the bedrooms are aimed towards the interior garden. This, however means that at all hours of the day and night, there will be people passing by the bedroom window. As a result, I have a beautiful wall to wall and floor to ceiling window, that I can never truly use.
Due to the impossibility of comfortably reading a book in my pajama without having neighbors say “Hello!”, I find the room too dark and unappealing and thus spend little to no time in my bedroom outside of the hours of sleep.

Another example that comes to mind are the bedroom windows oriented towards the interior market from the Markthal building in Rotterdam. Those can not be opened due to safety reasons. As a result, the ventilation is done through the rest of the apartment and the air conditioning system.  On top of that, the windows can not be fully used due to privacy reasons as most people prefer not to be observed when in the intimacy of their bedrooms.  

So, the question remains: is the absence of the physical window an absolute deal breaker in all possible situations?   

When it comes to residential housing, one would say that Dutch people aren’t that daring. Most of the houses are built in a similar fashion, and the market seems to be responding to the demand of safe, somewhat dull spaces. But are they really the ones that aren’t daring or is it just a side effect of an utilitarian market built on economic profit? 

I believe people have not been given the playground to discover and play with space. The market has been steadily, but surely, since the end of the second world war, prioritizing the existence of a roof over the head and affordability. One might beg to differ about the affordability in recent years, but for the sake of conversation we’ll just run with it!  And if in the beginning this was the best course of action, in the more recent years it is actually proving to be counter productive. People are creatures of habit that can adapt fascinatingly well to any situation. However, adapting to a situation, does not mean that it is actually a good thing in the long run. So, what I see here, are people that have gotten accustomed to a safe, basic way of perceiving space. The way out of it is to offer them options that take them out of their comfort zone.

Original layout:

• Completed: 2004
Surface: 105m²
Balcony: 6m²

• As I said about previous “-Re” Houses, this is a perfectly functional apartment. However, that does not mean that it offers the best possible options. It offers 105m² for a one bedroom apartment, which is extremely, extremely generous. However its downside is the limited window surface which limits the design options. The simplest design, is indeed to split it in half length wise and designate day and night areas. (see original layout above and first proposal below) However that offers a limited window surface for the living room and forces its organisation on the long axis. 

• I initially followed the same system of the original floor plan, but refined its circulations. I added a glass wall to the bedroom in order to allow the open space desired in the original plan, but maintain privacy. And I separated the day and night areas.

And once I finished, I realized I truly and honestly disliked it.
It is clear, functional, perfectly fine, and yet the space is claustrophobic, divided, does not flow and feels old. So I started over.

New layout:

• The bedroom is the room where we go to sleep. We don’t go there for the light. We actually go out of our way to make it dark with thick curtains. So, the only reason to have it next to a window is the need for ventilation. But what if it could be ventilated without occupying the window surface and in doing so it would release the window space to be used by the living room? With that question in mind and with the desire to make the space flow as much as possible I moved the kitchen and bathroom to the center of the space. I placed the bedroom on one side and used glass doors (sliding doors work just as fine) so when open it all becomes one space.
• The bedroom can be closed and have its privacy, as well as open and part of the “public space”. The doors towards the living room are made of glass to allow the access of natural light while the one towards the entry hall is opaque to emphasize privacy.  The ventilation is done, without a problem, through the living room area. The glass doors can also have a various designs that allow parts to be open at all time. 
• The kitchen doubles as a hallway while being in direct connection with the living room.
• By removing the bedroom from the facade, the living room now makes full use of all three windows and the balcony.  The resulted shape provides more options for furniture layouts.

The interior design has been created for a person with an eclectic style and a love for colors and patterns. The lively and striking colors are both in contrast and emphasized by the industrial bare concrete walls. While the furniture amount is kept to a low level, the green is free to take over.  

Click here for more “-Re” House projects
Click here for more “-Re” Adapt projects


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