-Re House

“-Re” House no. 23 – Understanding Space

“-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. 

This is the “original” Hamster Box, the first apartment I used to explain the “fake loggias”. These are fake balconies made from creating a glass enclosure behind a facade. I added my five cents on the matter here.

Original layout:
•  Completed: 2001
Surface: 126m²
External storage: 9m²

• The layout of this apartment is limited by the shape of the available space, so there is little that can be done about the long and narrow corridor leading to the day area.
• The master bedroom has the best relation to the bathroom. However, duo to the way the circulations are laid out, it is in the direct vicinity of a “traffic jam” area. This would imply the need of something more than a thin divider wall (hint: budget) for the bedroom so that both sleep and bathroom/laundry usage can coexist.
• The secondary bedrooms are minimal. As I stated many times before, I find it rather sad. Children and teenagers spend more time in their rooms than adults do in their bedroom. Their needs for that space are much more complex than those for the master bedroom. Thus, a decent sized room is required.
• The kitchen feels isolated and isolating. The layout does not allow a proper communication between the kitchen and the living room. The two spaces can be divided by a wall (be it opaque or transparent), however due to the transitory quality of the kitchen, their connection must be clearly defined.

New layout:
• The master bedroom typically serves two people. It’s function is very basic: sleep and, unfortunately, storage. For a restful time scientists recommend a clean, rather minimalist space. The stored items should be out of sight but easy to access. If the two residents don’t have the same morning alarm, the one that has to tip toe through the room doesn’t need to have things more difficult than they are. A year of 5:00 AM alarms have taught me that. It also gave me the urge to bang a metal pan at the head of the bed, but I successfully managed to refrain from doing that. Phewww!
Now, as organized as one might be, we all end up with the problem of the clothing not yet dirty enough to be tossed in the hamper/washing machine. So, a space to hang/lay/store those it is generally overlooked. Designers, all, seem to have this idea that people are perfect organizers once you provide them with the ideal closet. Hmmm. Level: perfect organizer. Nope, not even close!
The initial secondary bedrooms were too small for my taste. As structurally, there was no way to modify the master bedroom (not that I really desired that), I extended them slightly by moving the non structural wall from the kitchen. No worries, there is enough space to do that. There isn’t enough space to truly separate the work/study from the sleeping area, but through smart choices in furniture things can be sorted.
The kitchen is adjacent to the transit space towards the living room. Thus, unless fully separated through a proper enclosure, the two must work together. I personally dislike the feeling of walking through a tunnel like hallway to reach the living room, only to discover the hidden kitchen. I would much more appreciate being able to see, feel and understand the space I am entering from the very beginning.
The space is nice and open, so I would take advantage of that and direct the kitchen towards the living room so the two can work together. I’d create a nice work bench combined with a breakfast nook, allowing (based on needs) either a larger work area or an informal space for social interaction.
• The living room is large. The shape is simple and clear and it has a large amount of windows.
I removed the fake balcony as it does not bring anything to the space. A real outdoor space would have been appreciated, however between a fake balcony and a bigger indoor space I choose the later. Want to enjoy the fresh air? Either open the window or get out for a walk. The “hamster box” is good for smokers (If no one told you, is bad for health and no longer in fashion!), drying laundry (Which ironically no one thinks of in the layout of an apartment… Dryers are not always an option or actually desired.) or driving your dog mad when feeding the cat in plain sight (Please don’t do that! That’s just mean!). However, in order to have a full picture, I did draw a version with an actual balcony space. (see above)

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

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