The Restaurant La Place, Houten, The Netherlands, (otherwise known as the Golden House or Gouden Huis in Dutch) was designed by Micha de Haas of the architectural practice Abbink & de Haas. It was initiated after he had heard about plans of Houten local authority for redeveloping the area around the railway station. The immediate surroundings were of low quality – typical 1980’s, designed with little or no aesthetic consideration and ageing rather badly.
The architect’s idea was to introduce a dominant building to provide a much needed focus – something like a ‘jewel’ in the middle of mediocrity. From very early on, he believed it should be a golden building – made of ‘gold’ and looking heavy, shiny and expensive. Naturally, he wanted to locate it near the water’s edge where it would rise from the basalt surface of its terrace and benefit from its enhancing reflections.
The original proposal was for an information centre. This changed into ideas for a bar, restaurant and meeting rooms divided over three levels and inter-connected by spatial voids. However, after a feasibility study, it was decided to develop it just as a restaurant.
“For the exterior effect we wanted, we first worked on two options – copper based cladding and a golden glitter polyester product. The latter seemed to be the better option because it was possible to form a monolithic surface (which of course resembles gold better) but both these cladding materials turned out to be too expensive. We then researched different materials and even started to develop one ourselves. Obviously, Trespa was one of the options for us however, at that stage, we thought the panels were neither golden nor metallic enough to simulate our concept,” says architect Micha de Haas.
“Finally, we looked closely again at Trespa Meteon. The fact that this cladding offered different appearances from different angles came as a pleasant surprise. Although, we really wanted to make the façades three-dimensional, we realised that was not necessary because the special directional pigments in the metallic colour coating and installing the flat panels in different orientations, would create that effect. We had finally found our answer – triangular Trespa Meteon panels in the Metallic Amber colour with a satin finish, installed in four different orientations.”