This Light-Filled Forest Home in the Netherlands Brings Nature Into Focus

On the site of a former clinic, Kevin Veenhuizen Architects creates a peaceful family residence where plants and wildlife abound.
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In the town of Noordwijk, located an hour’s drive south of Amsterdam, there’s a bosvilla—or forest villa—tucked between towering ash and maple trees. The homeowners called upon Kevin Veenhuizen Architects to design a sustainable home that would embrace the landscape and suit their lifestyle long after their three children had grown.

Towering ash and maple trees rise around the family’s wooden bosvilla.

The site was initially developed in 1928 as a psychological clinic for women, and the architects drew inspiration from the lush, green surroundings while collaborating closely with the couple to achieve a simple and humble home reflective of their personality. The dwelling’s square footprint is divided into four precisely arranged quadrants, and the four corners feature glass walls that open the structure to its natural environs.

The home’s four glass corners create a seamless connection to the surrounding environment.

The home’s orientation is designed to optimize daylighting. "It was important that the kitchen was oriented to the east so the clients could wake up and have breakfast with the sunrise," says architect Guillaume Pfefferle. "An opening to the west to enjoy the last ray of light after coming back from work in the evening was equally important."

Another glass corner lets natural light into the bedroom.

Sustainability was also central to the conversation between the family and the architects. "We are very concerned about the impact the building industry has on the environment, and on tomorrow’s quality of life," shares Pfefferle. "This is why we strive for the use of sustainable products, always look to maximize a location’s potential, and advocate to reuse precious resources, such as water."

The corner window by the dining table is  furnished with a comfortable chair where the couple spend time observing birds.  A sliding glass door in the center of the living area accesses the terrace.

Rainwater runs off the home’s zinc roof before being collected in an underground tank through a drainage system around the terrace. This water is then used for everything from washing clothes to flushing toilets and tending the garden.

The open, double-height kitchen features two round peepholes that create a visual connection between the cooking area and the upper floor.

In addition to water capture, the architects incorporated a number of sustainability-focused features. Roof windows and skylights provide natural ventilation, and the structure has thick walls to accommodate a large level of insulation, which helps to minimize heat loss and lower energy consumption.

A pine-clad corridor on the upper level leads to the family’s bedrooms.

The architects also carefully selected the home’s materials with resourcefulness in mind. The structure consists of 16 timber columns which support a cross of laminated beams. In the center of the home, another column extends to the roof, supporting the roof beams.

No steel or concrete was used in the above-ground construction—the home’s structure consists almost entirely of timber. In the double-height spaces, pine paneling serves as a subtle, aesthetically pleasing ceiling and wall treatment, emphasizing the open-quadrant floor plan. The window frames are made of mahogany, which has a reddish color that blends with the brick cladding outside.

The airy interiors are finished with white-painted plasterboard, and pine panelling warms the double-height space.

The project took longer than anticipated—three years in the making—but the clients moved in in May 2021, and the end result was worth the wait. The forested environment has become a peaceful haven for the family, who loves spending time in nature, raising their chickens, and watching birds and other resident wildlife.

"As an architect, it is a beautiful feeling to see a design taking shape and becoming an inhabitable framework for a family," says Pfefferle. "When we sat down together for a drink at the end of these three years, we acknowledged that it had been a learning experience for everyone."

Floor Plan of Bosvilla Noordwijk by Kevin Veenhuizen Architects

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