This Blackened Timber House Triumphantly Emerges After a Fire

This Blackened Timber House Triumphantly Emerges After a Fire

By Alex Ronan
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.

When Bas van Bolderen and Willem van Bolderen visited the site of a 17th-century farmhouse in the small Dutch town of Duiven, only ash remained. Forty years ago, newly married Gerard and Wilma bough the home, where they raised their now adult children. But, within a single night, it was all lost to a fire. Rebuilding a replica of the original house was out of the question; an approximation of the centuries-old home would never do.

Using prefabricated elements, Bas van Bolderen Architectuur and Studio Puisto Architects were able to complete the dwelling in just eight months so the couple’s lives could return to normal. Wall elements were constructed in Germany, then transported to the Netherlands, where the house was erected in just one week.

They invited the brothers, each with his own architectural firm, to come up with something new. Called Huize Looveld, the new home is deeply rooted in the familiar landscape. "The old house faced inward," Willem says, "This one engages the surroundings much more thanks to large, well-placed windows and a harmonious transition between indoor and outdoor space."

"We wanted the wood to appear as natural as possible, so leaving the larch untreated was the first choice," Bas explained. But the shape of the house would make the wood turn gray unevenly, so they blackened the larch. "The clients were excited with the dark color as it helps the house blend into the trees. They didn’t want the anything excessive or showy." But blackened timber comes with its own challenges. Since it absorbs more heat, a larger air cavity was built behind the wood to keep it cool.

Though it’s significantly smaller than the original home, the new design feels spacious thanks to its airy interior. Varying ceiling heights set off distinct zones within the central living space which is used for cooking, dining, and hanging out. Forgoing fussiness, the brothers went with stainless steel in the kitchen, and used American ash, known for its hardiness, throughout. The ground floor has poured concrete flooring, which is perfect for visiting grandchildren, muddy dogs, and hauling in firewood ("It’s the country, after all" Wilma says.)  It’s also used on the decks and in the bathrooms, making the exterior spaces feel like a natural extension of the first floor.

The entrance has a simple white ceiling, the dining table sits in a double-height space, and the living room has a warm spruce ceiling, subtly dividing the open floor plan. The interior flooring (a custom mixed shade of Invedra concrete) was also used on the patios, which help facilitate the indoor-outdoor cohesion.

The house is made up of three wings and forms an almost Z-shaped structure, with ninety degree angles. The master bedroom is downstairs and guest quarters are on the second floor, facilitating privacy in an otherwise open home.

"All our kids moved out long ago, but now all the grandchildren stay over frequently," Wilma said. "The open space is great for them. They can bike and run around inside and with the walls of windows, we can keep an eye on them when they’re outside." The stairs were custom made by Level Trappen, with a steel railing resembling interlaced branches from the nearby forest.

 The architects encouraged the couple to embrace new technologies and a bit of luxury, but deferred to the homeowners when it came to maximizing the views. Together, the made sure that every turn produces a new vista. As Gerard explained, "Since the surroundings and the location were all that we had left, we wanted to embrace the landscape as much as possible."

To highlight the views and avoid clutter in a multipurpose space, the van Bolderen brothers, in cooperation with Originele Staat interior design firm, used stainless steel countertops and added screenprinted Dibond aluminum plates to the standard kitchen cabinetry. The window frames are by MHB.

"We really enjoy the dining room: from here you can see out in all directions," Gerard says.


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