This geometric gem becomes one with its environment.
Cropping up from the stark dunes on the island of Terschelling in the Netherlands, Marc Koehler Architects envisioned an unconventional home that would be innovative in design, while providing tailor-made functionality for the residents. The architects took a holistic approach to the design process, integrating architecture, landscape, and interior design into the final concept. Central to the process was an outward focus on the surroundings and a reverence for nature. The sea, sunlight, and local wind patterns intimately informed the overall design, and exterior materials were carefully chosen to play off colors and textures already present in the natural landscape.
The home, a half-sunk diamond, is experienced very differently from each of its sides. Using BIM software, the firm designed modular prefabricated wooden panels that make up each of the home’s facades. Western red cedar was chosen for the panels, while tropical Bilinga was selected for the edge beam.
The house is seamlessly integrated into the landscape, at once blending in and sticking out. The exterior cleverly mirrors its surroundings in tone and texture. Solar panels are discretely tucked into the dunes next to the house, and passive building techniques maximize energy efficiency and improve insulation. Wood was favored as both structural and finish material, due to its longevity, recyclability, beauty when aged, and favorable acoustic qualities. Furthermore, since it does not react with salt, wood naturally shields the sea-bordering home from the elements.
Using prefabricated materials for the exterior allowed Koehler and his team to drastically reduce building time during the construction phase. Cross-laminated timber panels (CLT), laser cut in the factory and assembled at the site within two weeks, add structure and aesthetic interest to the top of the home.
Each room in the interior was carefully curated to reflect the unique function of that space. The interior interacts intimately with the surrounding landscape, as different visual perspectives of the dunes are framed by the geometric facade.
The interior staircase spirals around the center of the home, in a “promenade architecturale” connecting each level. The continuous and gradual vertical movement is a subtle nod to the experience of strolling through the dunes. A central wood-burning fireplace efficiently heats the whole home, minimizing the need for supplemental in-floor heating incorporated in the concrete floors. Natural cross-ventilation is achieved through the use of CO2 directed grills at the north and south of the home, an added green feature that further reduces the ecological footprint.
Consistent with the rest of the home, the minimal and simplistic dining area relies on the warmth of wood to anchor the space. Pendant lights hang above a custom-built wood table and bench. The lounge area below follows suit with wood coffee table, and both stationary and mobile cushioned seating.
The top floor of the home offers striking views of the surrounding dunes and North Sea. Simply accented with a suspended bubble chair by Aarnio Eero, the viewing platform is the owners’ favorite part of the home.
Illuminated at dusk, the home brings light and energy to the sleepy dunes. Relying on cues from the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape, the home quietly but confidently makes its presence felt.