A Cor-Ten Steel Home Rocks Heavy Metal Vibes in the Netherlands

A Cor-Ten Steel Home Rocks Heavy Metal Vibes in the Netherlands

By Laura Mauk
A multidisciplinary team turns an early 1900s garage in Utrecht into an artful home made of wood, brick, and Cor-Ten steel.

When Roland Manders and Hanne Caspersen asked their friend and frequent collaborator architect Marnix van de Meer, of Zecc Architecten, to help convert a 1900s garage in the Wittevrouwen neighborhood of Utrecht into their dream home, they didn’t know the end result would be as much a sculpture as it is a house.

Zecc Architecten and their clients Roland Manders and Hanne Caspersen transformed an early 1900s garage into a 1,000-square-foot home in Utrecht, Netherlands.

Roland, a steel artist at Staalstudio in Utrecht, and Hanne, a designer, searched the city for more than a year, looking for an affordable property they could tailor to their needs. "The garage was in a poor condition, but we knew we could make it what we wanted," Roland says.

The three-story home features a front facade clad with Cor-Ten steel that both blends into—and departs from—the traditional brick facades around it.

The couple maintained the garage’s ground floor, and the brick walls on either side. Above the ground level, they added two additional floors, framing them with timber. They recreated the rear facade with cement boards, which they finished with pale gray plasterwork. And when it came to the front facade, they looked to van der Meer and Zecc Architecten.

The Cor-Ten steel, now a bright orange-brown tone, will patina over time, lending a dynamic quality to the artful home.

Van der Meer wrapped the front facade in striking orange-brown Cor-Ten steel that both stands out and blends in with the architectural fabric of the neighborhood. "The choice to use Cor-Ten steel was made out of love for the material, as Roland is a steel artist," the architect says. "It contrasts with the brick of the neighboring buildings, but it also keeps with them beautifully because the discoloration refers to the patina of the archetypical Dutch brick."

On the second level, the design team arranged a living area that opens to a balcony and deck area. The built-in wall storage is crafted from oak.

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The front facade’s features are also in line with historical elements that define the surrounding buildings. According to van der Meer, during the mid-19th century, the small streets of Wittevrouwen were lined with working-class houses that give the neighborhood its characteristic appearance. 

"I revamped the stylistic features of a working-class house," the architect says. "The residence stands out in abstraction and material, but through form, composition, and details, it’s in keeping with adjacent buildings." The architect clad the roof cowl, the dormer, the chimney, and the cornices in Cor-Ten steel, too, so that the entire front facade appears as if it was carved out of a single sheet of steel.

A sizable oak staircase, with a large landing and storage beneath it, leads to each level of the home.

Roland and Hanne built the interior architecture themselves with the help of vof de Bouwmaat. "We wanted an unconventional and highly personal living space, because we like architecture and design," Roland says. "We’re very inspired by materials and texture, and we used materiality as our starting point." 

Much like the Cor-Ten steel facade, a massive staircase and various built-in furniture pieces look as if they were carved from massive chunks of oak, lending continuity and an artful quality that anchors the interior space.

The oak staircase pivots as it leads from the bedroom on the top level to the living room on the second level.

Roland and Hanne arranged the rooms so that the public space, including the kitchen and the dining area, lies on the ground level. There’s a private living room with a wood-burning stove and a bathroom on the second level. A bedroom, a bathroom, a balcony, and a cozy reading nook set within a dormer are tucked away on the third level.

The bedroom, situated on the top level, features oak built-in storage above the bed and a sitting nook tucked beneath the dormer that’s expressed on the exterior.

"I like to chill on the base platform of the staircase," Roland says. "It’s a bit protected from street views by a large, steel wardrobe. And from that position, I can communicate with Hanne no matter where she is in the house."

The kitchen and dining area are arranged on the home’s ground level.

The Cor-Ten steel of the front facade wraps around the roof, the chimney, and a dormer, lending a sculptural aesthetic.

More from Zecc Architecten:

This Light-Filled Cabin in the Netherlands Is Completely Made by Hand

Traditional Churches Become Modern Homes

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Marnix van der Meer, Zecc Architecten / @zeccarchitects

Design: Roy van Maarsevee, Zecc Architecten / @zeccarchitects

Construction: Roland Manders and Hanne Caspersen, Staalstudio, and vof de Bouwmaat

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