Hidden House

Hidden House

Architect
LMNL office
Location
Rotterdam, Netherlands | View Map
Project Year
2020
Category
Parks/Gardens

Private Houses
LMNL office

Hidden House

LMNL office as Architects

Passing down one of the oldest streets in Rotterdam Kralingen one finds the Hidden House (and garden) located 35 meters down a narrow gravel path, nestled in the lush gardens of the surrounding villas. Built between 1820 and 1840 as the gardener’s quarters of the former Slot Honingen, the dilapidated row house was in need of full renovation and upgrading to modern standards when purchased in 2016.  Problems such as rising damp, rotten floor beams, and sagging windows were all addressed using sustainable materials and careful attention to detail. Wood fibre insulation, between two layers of clay plaster, insulates the whole house from the inside as the exterior is a protected historic facade. This method of insulation protects the single brick walls, floors and roof, allowing moisture transfer as it is damp open, while providing a stable and healthy interior climate which requires minimal heating during the winter. The crawl space is insulated and kept dry with shells from the North Sea, an ancient Roman technique. 

Totaling only 100m2 each centimeter of space is used to its utmost extent. The ground floor comprises the main living space – one single room holding the dining, kitchen and living functions. A modern wood burning tile stove anchors the space. The kitchen with its white wall and green island topped with marble is a bespoke design and forms the center of the house. Up the custom stair/bookcase, two large bedrooms, a small office space and one full bathroom comprise the private living spaces. The characteristic lime plaster creates a subtle play of light across the walls while ash floors with a white soap finish keep the floor a neutral color.  

The house is surrounded on all sides by gardens. The front garden, the white garden, acts as the entry to the house. Trees such as juneberry, Himalayan birch and witch hazel form a canopy above hundreds of different kinds of perennial plants which form the owners budding botanical collection. There is also a small kitchen garden where vegetables can be grown in the summer. The side garden, fully in the shade of the northern side of the house is a narrow space planted with ferns and climbers. The back garden, home to a hive of local black bees, has a yellow and blue theme and is anchored by a multistem weeping willow which grows next to the waters edge at the rear. A bespoke greenhouse with direct access from the living room provides an extension to the house which is used as a garden room and winter depot for more delicate plants. The garden continues up on the roof, with sedum cassettes on the flat areas.

The whole project acts as an experiment to approach the renovation of older houses in the most sustainable and sensible way. 

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