VILLA THE HAGUE
This project is an 'urban villa' for a single family in The Hague, Holland. It is one of a series of eight villas being developed in two rows of four, between a typical Dutch canal and a boulevard (Dedemsvaartveg).
Although all eight villas are subject to a common program, guidelines, codes, and setbacks, each was designed by a different firm with a distinctly different approach to design. The project's significance is its possibility to lend itself as a prototype for speculative housing development in the post cold war era; enforcing a set of strict urban guidelines, while allowing for individual architectural expression.
The site is a small plot (15 m x 16 m, buildable area of 10 m x 12 m) with a given program of four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a living room, kitchen , dining room, and a carport. The villa takes on two completely different attitudes toward the site. The facade facing the boulevard is a planar expanse of wall, reinforcing the bound edge of the site's envelope, while those facing the common alley on the canal side are more expansive of the spaces they accommodate. Typical of many Dutch urban row houses, the first floor is more open and transparent, allowing light as well as the glance of the occasional passerby or motorist to penetrate the structure. It is this idea of openness, extracted from the vernacular, which became one of the constructs investigated in the design of the structure.
The street facade is perhaps the first indication one gets of the overlapping nature of the villa. Within the frame created by the wall, one not only sees the curvilinear stair as it arches over the owner's automobile, but one actually sees down into the living space and into the yard beyond. The car, now encapsulated and incorporated by the structure of the villa, becomes part of the house.
The villa becomes a Gestaltist puzzle in which the overlapping of the spaces become a contiguous part of a greater architectural whole. Behind the orthogonally oriented street facade, the building begins to splay away from its origins, revealing a spatial momentum which continues throughout the house and upward to the clad metal roofs. The structure of the villa, concrete columns and flat slabs supporting cavity brick masonry wall, allows the upper kinetic volumes to float over the more transparent first floor. The kinetic form of the house on the canal side, responds to the flow and movement of boats passing by.