The rural house is located in Zeeland, the westernmost region of the Netherlands. The whole house is very modest in finishing, materials and construction solutions. The structures are in poor conditions with very little worth saving. The house program calls for a holiday retreat with very simple functions.
The façades consist in thin brick walls which can barely support the floor and roof wooden structures any longer. The traditional pitched roof has collapsed in several areas and it has detached from the façades.
The two-story house is built on a dike, hence it has a split ground floor: one side faces the higher part of the embankment, the access road, the other side faces the lower part, the garden.
Given the precarious condition of the walls and the absence of proper foundations, the project restores the original brick façades, but rebuilds all the interior wooden structures (floors and roof) to create a new interior volume which fits within the original mass profile and lays on new foundations. Instead of building traditional foundations, which would require deep excavations and ground movement, the soil stabilization is achieved with surgical and minimal precision by inserting self-drilling steel rods (micropiles) into the terrain. The advantages are plurimous: less vibrations, minimal access, fast installation.
The new house volume is designed as a compact wooden structure made of glulam pillars, beams and panels which rest on the micropiles, slightly elevated from the terrain. The walls are made of insulated glulam panels which play an important role in fulfilling the building energy performance. The massive wooden walls work as the load-bearing frame (therefore avoiding cross bracings), thermal insulation, interior cladding and airtight layer. This multifunctionality makes best use of the inherent structural and thermal properties of wood and simplifies the building composition, resulting in an optimization of construction period and cost.
New openings are created only in the northern façade and on the slanted roof in order to introduce more light and a panoramic view towards the landscape.
The floor at garden level contains the kitchen and living area, plus the main bathroom. The floor at road level has two rooms, a dining area and a studio which works also has a guest room. Upstairs, on the first floor, two bedrooms are separated by a small circular staircase and a toilet.
Maintaining the outer brick envelope and volume of the house, the project aims at preserving the history of the building and its relationship with the surrounding.