Feasibility, Furniture and Fruit

When we try to make the existing more sustainable, one should always think from the perspective of the user: the common Dutch family. For the major part of this target group saving energy is not a sufficient motivation to renovate their house. The two most important aspects of a home according the Dutch are ‘space’ and ‘garden.’ By placing an adaptable glass house over the house we create extra space and make the garden usable year round, while also improving the sustainability.

Taking into account Dutch weather conditions, the current garden can only be used 50% of the time. By applying the skin, the use of this space it optimized by it’s adaptability: the ‘space’ changes throughout the year related to the seasonal activities.

In winter the skin will create a buffer zone, with temperatures suitable for a winter garden, while the living space remains the ‘warm core.’ This way inhabitants can even enjoy green and produce food during winter. When spring breaks, the temperatures in the skin become comfortably enough to function as an extension of the living room. The doors between living room and the skin will open: people can fully enjoy the sight of the first leaves and flowers. During summer the focus of activities is mainly on the outside. The skin adapts to this by opening up completely, so people can make fully use of their garden.

The story
home with skin and space
A Home with a Skin
Our House in Versailles
The House

To underline the fact that this is part of a row of houses, it is presented as if a slice has been taken to Versailles by including two parts of the neighboring houses. These neighbors present the original situation, without a Skin to experience the full effect of applying the Skin in the difference between the middle house and the two neighbors. However, this copy of the house in Honselersdijk is adapted to fit within the boundary conditions of the Solar Decathlon competition. The trade-off has been mainly regarding size, to fit within the Solar Envelope, and materialization, to make it constructible within the time set. Still in every design decision the house was imitated as realistically as possible. For example the exact same type of brick has been chosen as outer wall finishing and the thermal mass has been imitated using phase change materials. Even the exact orientation has been copied, even though this is not optimally North-South. This underlines the aspect that when dealing with an existing situation, orientation is part of the context.

The Interior

The most important aspect for representing the house in Honselersdijk is the quality and identity of a Dutch ‘home.’ This forms the main concept for the interior design: no hyper modernistic unfordable interior, but an existing home of a common Dutch family, in this case the family of Dennis. To present the aspect of an ‘existing home,’ a combination of second hand furniture of Dutch families and new furniture is used. Furthermore, elements that determine the identity of a home, such as pictures on the wall, shoes in the hallway, are implemented in the interior design.

The interior concept is to recreate a real life dutch household, and generate a sensation of cosiness and intimacy of entering a well loved home. A fundamental characteristic that defines the typical Dutch environment is the mixture between old, familiar and meaningful elements and new, modern and efficient elements. New elements are of course easy to obtain. But the older elements are what makes a house a home; from the puckered cover on the couch to the used can of laundry soap over the washing machine, up to the smell of burned bread from the toaster. These items were acquired from donations from the Dutch public and members of the team. In order not to alter this sensation all the elements of the exposition are hidden within these items. For example posters will be printed in the newspapers left on the coffee table and blueprints can be shown on the back of the cereals boxes over the kitchen.

Clarity, simplicity, high visibility are the three main elements that guided the project design and the interior organisation.
In the second floor of the house, next to the bedroom, there lies the media room. This space is fundamental to show the connection between the new project and the existing neighbourhood and to demonstrate the possibility of a future expansion of this redesign to different household in the area.

interior infographic
The Garden

Integrating green in an urban environment has proven to have a positive effect of the wellbeing of inhabitants and the environment. The garden design contributes to water cycles and waste cycles of the house, by rainwater collection, food production and compost. By application of specific greenery, the garden also provides habitat for other organisms. In both the private garden and the greenhouse the design proposes space for growing herbs and fruits as this both offers food and activity, depending on the selection of green.

In the design of the front garden, the street and the sense of community have been given meaning. Instead of focusing on the small territories in the form of tiny front yards the street is reconsidered as shared space, belonging to the community: the inhabitants of the street. In the design of the street/front garden fruit trees are main elements as this offers both shelter, room for social interaction with neighbors and food. In the garden design this is detailed by elements, such as the hedge which allows neighbors to share homegrown herbs and plants. Garden fences called ‘de Buurjongens’.

garden concepts