This sustainably designed vacation home in the Netherlands blends modestly into its surroundings, but its interior is surprising light and spacious. The architects faced an interesting challenge in the conception of this home: the home needed to be large enough to accommodate a large extended family for holiday vacations, but zoning regulations for a holiday home in this area impose a maximum size limit of 360 square feet. Therefore, the architects have extended the home by building half of it underground, creating the additional space that a large family gathering requires while still adhering to the legal floor plan limit.
Nestled in the sand dunes in Schiermonnikoog, this L-shaped home relaxes quietly in a wild, natural environment. The vacationers in this home enjoy a lovely view of these surroundings through large glass windows that create an entirely transparent facade.
The exterior is made of wood panels in different widths and shades that create a vertical striped pattern all around the home. Invisible gutters give a seamless, simple look to the intersection surfaces of the exterior, allowing even more attention to be directed to the unique striped pattern in the walls. While these brown walls reflect a natural harmony with nature, the roof plays its own part – the roof is made of wood and zinc and covered with moss, allowing it to slowly become one with its surroundings as well.
The street-facing side of the home is slightly more enclosed, but still offers a long, horizontal window that connects the inner world of the home with the outer world of anyone who's pulling up in the driveway – in addition, it provides a view that reaches through to the trees on the opposite side of the home. Aside from providing a friendly connection to the coming and going on the street side of the home, this window ensures that the house interior benefits from sunlight coming from both East and West sides of the home, all day long.
The living space includes a large bright open space that is partially divided into different functional areas, connected under the sloping angles of the roof surfaces. The living room rests under a particularly low roof segment, giving an extra dose of shelter and intimacy to this relaxing gathering space. Underground is where the more private rooms can be found: bedrooms, bathrooms and even a relaxing sauna.
A lot of attention has been directed towards the durability of the house, not just in a materials sense (using recycled wood, stones, moss, etc), but also in its energy use. For example, the home's design offers high insulation values, triple windows, an orientation that takes advantage of solar energy and natural shade, and a layout that regulates interior temperatures by placing half the living space underground. LED lighting has been used wherever possible, and the wood stove that heats the room does the rest. Thus, this sustainable vacation home aligns with Schiermonnikoog's ambition to be a self-sufficient island.
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