House for a private client @2022
Status: design phase
Design: Monolab, team: J.W. van Kuilenburg with Marta Criado Galarza, Elisa Mazzoni, Enea Sorci


…a residence with no architectural features…


It started as a design for a house of 14.40 x 14.40 m for two people in the countryside on a plot along a dike aligned with trees and agricultural land on the other side.


The way the house looks is not defined ahead and is a result of simple principles at the conclusion of the design process. The design has a predetermined lack of architectural features and thrives for neutrality. Materials are re-mountable and as basic, simple, natural and/or recyclable as possible.


The design of Playfield is generic and neutral and accepts standard building products and components. The 1.20-m industrial standard is a very useful basic dimension that fits the personal space of a person as well. The main challenges are to offer a programmable field for living options with the least of fixed functionalities, and to keep the main space as open and related to its surroundings as possible.


The main floor is situated three meters above grade and makes the house ready for rising water. Three different worlds are stacked: landscape, living and deck.


The square floorplan is point symmetric with three structural bays of 3.60 – 4.80 – 3.60 m. The two central bays together make a cross from side to side with the 4.80 m span. The cross has panoramic qualities parallel to the dike and primarily between dike and agricultural landscape.


The floorplan with the three zones and the central cross has four corner fields in diagonal orientation. This classic plan layout with nine fields triggers many variants of possible space use. The grid allows an adaptive layout by means of the zoning of interior, half climate and exterior.


The floorplan is open and playful, allowing many possible user scenarios. The horizon of the interior has little obstructions and visually coincides with the horizon of the countryside. Primary and secondary beams have the same height and together make coherent and structural ceilings over both ground level and living. Programs that would obstruct the openness, like entry, storage, sanitary and services, are situated at ground level and are covered in vegetation as part of the agricultural landscape. The kitchen in the living is kept low as a piece of furniture. The design has a library of accessories, like dedicated flexible partitions and furniture types on wheels. The deck has a free layout for outdoor life, with options like a tent structure and solar panels.


The approach at grade is from the side of the dike with the framed panorama in the central cross, with entry on the left. Entering the house follows a loop between the panorama at grade and a big, open panorama at the living. The stair to the living makes people move away from the landscape and arrive at the living in the central cross again, but now inside the huge panorama that opens more and more. The stair to the deck is on the mirrored, opposite side and offers the same sequence towards an ultimate 360-degree panorama at deck level. Both stairs fit within the secondary beam structure of floor and deck and emphasize the sequences of moving from one world into the next.


The house has a soft edge by an outdoor 1.20-m cantilever on all sides of the living. The physical footprint of the house at grade is minimal because large part of the ground level is open. The deck has a minimal volume for the stair and has options like a flexible tent, areas of solar panels, and plant life.


The maximized use of wood, the standard industrial dimensions, and the limited sizes and weights of building components make a high level of DIY. The layout of the column grid is defined by standard-sized underlayment floor sheets in clean cut dimensions of 1.20 x 2.40 m. The plan layouts of both floor and deck sheet are defined by multitudes of the 1.20-m basic grid. The secondary structure of wooden beams and standard underlayment floor sheets are oriented between dike and landscape and thus enhance the perspectives that catch spectacular panoramas. The cantilever is made by double secondary beams on both sides of the columns. The glass facade is without vertical supports and has silicon joints at 1.20-m grid lines. Balustrades are made of stainless-steel cables for maximum transparency. Interior partitions are in four types: pivoting panels of 2.40-m wide, folding panels of 1.20-m wide, and wood frames with glass, polycarbonate sheets or opaque finishes.


During design it became apparent that the spatial layout of the design could facilitate many more user scenarios; from a couple to a family, from having a practice at home to a residential group up to eight members and even to a standard housing plan layout with several separate rooms.