This private house is located on top of a sand ridge in the north of the Netherlands just above sea level. It belongs to the 17th century former Royal estate Oranjewoud. The house is raised to explore the superb view over the estates gardens and pond surrounded by old beech trees. The best examples of these estates in the village of Oranjewoud have both houses and gardens designed in the period they were founded.
The integration of architecture and landscaping is essential in the design. The plot has no physical boundaries. The sand that was excavated for the foundations and a new pond defines the public and the private domain. The house is placed as a solitaire within the forest, the trees function as a background for all internal activities. The forest habitat continues underneath the house. Beyond this forest, open fields stretch out to the North Sea. This garden is not to be cultivated.
The positioning of the house is more complex than at first sight. The main attraction in the orientation of the house corresponds with the public side. The entrance of the house is placed central in the layout and the main floor is lifted almost to eye level. The visual quality of the trees is anchored within a daily routine giving the owners of the house free sight over the public passing by. A small, but essential extension of the rectangular box relates it to the site, expresses the view and regulates the approach for both guests and residents.
The owner’s cars are placed underneath the house just above the highest groundwater level measured in the past 5 years. This level may vary about one meter and brings a more dynamic aspect to the geography. From this covered parking space one reaches the entrance with a short stair towards the more generous entrance stairs. This estate doesn’t need other buildings to function well. It has a minimum of pavement or cultivation to make things work.
The house is made with a steel skeleton fixed on nine columns to a concrete wall. The structure is rigid, wind loads are transferred to this wall without bracings. A large truss in the south façade is supported by four columns creating large cantilevers on the edges of the house. The main technical facilities and fixed elements are placed free of the façade. The interior is flexible in use and easy to change. In the current layout it’s possible to experience the total length of the building along both facades. Although the house measures a modest 180 m², the spatial layout with a 3 meters high ceiling makes the space vivid and royal in all its aspects.
A high level in used materials and equipment makes it possible for the owners to manage the house when they are abroad. The private exterior spaces are either enclosed within the volume or carved into the terrain giving maximum privacy to the inhabitants. This house has all the qualities of a luxurious city apartment within a dark forest.