An Aluminum-Clad Villa Puts a Contemporary Spin on the Dutch Farmstead

An Aluminum-Clad Villa Puts a Contemporary Spin on the Dutch Farmstead

By Lucy Wang
A sculptural take on the traditional Dutch “hoeve,” this creative home and culinary school hides a passageway beneath a grassy hill.

In the Southern Netherlands, the playful aesthetics of Dutch architecture firm Mecanoo have brought new life to the traditional hoeve—Dutch for farmstead—in Villa Vught, a contemporary ensemble of farmhouse-like buildings for a complex brief that includes a house for a family of four as well as a separate space for the clients’ culinary school.

Referencing the farmhouse typology ties the building into its agricultural setting, while helping the project’s various functions—a residence, cooking studio, and guest suite—read as a unified whole across 7,352 square feet. 

Located in the clients’ hometown of Vught, Villa Vught is located on land that had previously only been zoned for agriculture; a deal was made with the municipality to list part of the plot for housing and to leave the remaining land zoned for open space. 

Bounded by a circular walkway, Villa Vught is shaped like a small village with three distinct volumes arranged around a central courtyard. Dark bronze aluminum siding seamlessly wraps around all sides of the buildings, making them look like large-scale sculptures in the landscape—a fitting effect that reflects the family’s love of art.  

The Dutch "hoeve" informed Villa Vught’s material palette of dark bronze anodized aluminum cladding that wraps both the facade and the roof in a nod to the corrugated iron rooftops of nearby farm buildings.

"The design ambition endeavored to connect the residential functions while maintaining the detached traditional farmstead typology," explain the architects. "To this end, a half-sunken corridor, concealed beneath a grass mound, links the taller landmark volume with the barn’s living room. The barn containing the cooking studio and guesthouse is completely detached, maintaining sight-lines from the courtyard to the surrounding landscape."

The barn-shaped pair of gabled buildings flank a taller volume for visual contrast. The grass mound conceals a passageway that connects the two buildings on the right.

"The idea is that everything within the circle is designed and man-made and all that is outside the circle is this ‘listed’ nature, the landscape," explain the architects of the circular pathway that surrounds the buildings. "The circle functions as an edge, that is also a place. A boundary between landscape and garden. It places the house and garden in the landscape. A place to have a deep breath of fresh air after a busy day. The clients told us that the circle is used almost daily to move around the house. It’s very interesting to see how people appropriate the design and how they give new meaning and attributes."

A rooftop terrace tops the tallest building.

The taller building houses the master bedroom, bedrooms for the clients’ teenage daughters, and a rooftop terrace with sweeping landscape views. The communal spaces—which include the living room, an eat-in kitchen, and a workspace and TV room on the second floor—are located in the barn-like building next door. The passageway between the two buildings that's hidden beneath an overgrown grass mound makes the two structures appear separate and provides thermal mass benefits for the wine cellar located within.

The TV room is located above the eat-in kitchen, which connects to a large outdoor patio on the southwest side.

Stairs and storage space separate the kitchen and dining area from the living room.

On the other side of the tall building is another barn-like volume with a spacious culinary studio for cooking classes, workshops, and team-building activities. The building also includes a garage, storage space, and a guest suite on the upper floor. 

Large sliding doors in the center of the cooking studio/guest suite building open up to reveal an entrance gate to the courtyard. 

A glimpse inside the light-filled cooking studio that can accommodate 20 people for culinary classes and team-building activities.

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In contrast to the metal exterior, the interior is wrapped in European silver fir, a material selected for its visual warmth, uniform texture, and sustainable qualities. The project’s environmentally friendly profile is also raised with the use of cross-laminated timber for all of the building structures and the inclusion of electric heat pumps for heating and cooling. All of these measures combined help Villa Vught achieve an Energy Performance Coefficient of 0.26. The clients also plan to install solar panels in the future. 

The master bedroom overlooks views of the fields. Folding wooden screens were installed in place of curtains.

European silver fir wraps much of the interior to lend a sense of warmth.

 Instead of full-height panoramic windows the architects sought to carefully curate views of the landscape with windows of varying sizes "placed like picture frames, adorning the walls with select images of the surrounding farmlands," explains the firm. "Together with the great collection of art that the clients have placed throughout the house, it feels like we, as architects, became part of that art collection."

The light bronze aluminum finish of the protruding window frames were inspired by traditional farm windows that typically feature bright colors.

"The whole idea of the architecture was to provide various relations with the surrounding land. Big and small openings in the facade, for each room a different character. Like farmhouses and barns often show in their facade a diverse collection of openings, all with their own purpose. In our design each window or opening has its own purpose and meaning." 

Many of the windows face the herb garden.

Villa Vught ground floor plan

Villa Vught first floor plan

Villa Vught north elevation

Villa Vught south elevation

Villa Vught section

Villa Vught cooking studio section

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Mecanoo / @mecanoo_

Landscape Design Company /Interior Design/Cabinetry Design: Mecanoo

Cabinetry Manufacturer: Van Ven Rooij

Wood Structure: Derix

Metal Facade: Elshof


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