The house dated from 1928 and was built by a contractor as his own family home. The house was part of a small scale terraced house development. The large house had many different small rooms and a large floor area of approximately 300 m2.
We wanted to preserve the old characteristics of the house. However, we didn't want to completely hide the new interventions either. The new elements in the house are not nostalgic but also not hypermodern. Old and new are clearly visible however together they subtly and harmoniously enter into an interesting dialogue with each other. Some old characteristic elements have been emphasized. Such as the cast iron radiators that were previously hidden behind a radiator cover. The old radiators have been uncovered, kept untreated and reused in the house in plain sight. The new components and connection have been carefully selected so that it seems as if they have always been there. In the places where the old walls and interior doors have remained, the old elements such as the skirting boards and the door frame have also been restored and preserved. The services don’t intervene in the dialogue between old and new. All the modern installations - such as the mechanical heat recovery ventilation - and lighting are completely hidden in, for example, a recessed cove in the ceiling or hidden at the bottom of the plinth of the kitchen. All the kitchen equipment is also concealed behind cabinet doors and therefore the kitchen feels more like a piece of furniture. This is also the case for the bathroom, it feels more like a calm room where the more private spaces are a bit more hidden whilst staying open.
The clients wanted a more “open-plan” ground floor whilst being able to close spaces. We created an open plan where the kitchen, living room and the hallway are connected but can also be closed by steel glass doors. The glass doors let the natural light go through but prevent sounds and make the spaces feel more private when closed. The steels doors are crafted like it was made in the 1920’s with putty and thin simple steel profiles.
We tried to convince the clients to insulate the house for sustainability and other reasons. However wrongly insulating old houses from within can cause serious structural damage and health risks. This is due to moist issues due to creating the condensation point inside the structure. We solved this problem by using lightweight mineral based insulation boards. The boards are “glued” to the existing masonry and therefore form a solid wall. Moisture problems are prevented since the wall is vapor permeable. This was also the challenge for this project ; to use breathable materials which eventually give the house it’s special character and result in a healthy and well insulated environment. After
many material tests we choose - with exemption of the concrete ground floor - only natural and ecological materials and finishes. We used a painting from Hendrik Willem Mesdag as an inspiration for our material pallet. The clients wanted to have a sturdy concrete floor however thought concrete felt a bit too cold. We experimented with concrete combined with yellow, white and red pigments. We realised that we only wanted just a very little bit of yellow pigment (otherwise the floor would become too yellow). It’s so subtle you could barely see it , however when you compare it with regular concrete it feels much more warm. This was also the case for the walls. After a lot of different material tests we choose a lime paint combined with rough sand to give it more texture. Because the paint or plaster is super math and a little bit yellow (whilst feeling as being white) it feels much more warm. These materials are combined with oak and together they form a simple material pallet for the house.