This original, characteristic mid-terrace house from 1957 had a traditional layout, a small kitchen, enclosed hallway, and a fairly closed-off rear facade. The back garden only had limited space available for an extension to the house, and the owners did not want it turned into a patio. Residents Rob Willemse and Fabianne Riolo, both architects, designed a relatively modest extension with big spatial impact. This was done by opening up the entire width of the rear facade and at the same time opening up the interior living space.
In the middle of the layout, they placed a cupboard element that also conceals two doors to the hallway, which blend seamlessly into the design. This oak cupboard wall forms a central piece of furniture around which the surrounding space forms a continuous whole. The cupboard is handcrafted with traditional details such as massive edges, miter angles and hidden hinges. The doors close thanks to the invisible built-in magnets. To the space on all sides of the cupboard, different functions are integrated, such as kitchen ovens, fridges and storage are integrated. Hidden magnets behind one of the wooden panels create a wooden collage board.
The kitchen element is designed with simple, 5 meter long, continuous lines. The matte, warm grey contrasts with the oak floor and cupboard element, and is combined with a ton sur ton grey ceramic working plane, which continues as back wall behind the stove. At some points, inclined surfaces break the formal rectangular design of the interior.
To the outside, a large, glass front with hidden door-frame sections appears to seamlessly connect the interior and exterior. This continuous space seems to enlarge both the living space and the garden.
As the architects already had been living in this house for twelve years, they knew exactly how the sunlight falls in on any given day throughout the year. To create shadows on sunny mornings, they planted a new Japanese maple tree in the garden. During the winter, the morning sun enters through an inclined skylight, reaching the middle of the house.
The mid-terrace house with its un-spacious floor plan and small garden is a very common typology for the Netherlands, however, with only little spatial quality. Often houses are demolished and replaced to meet new building demands. The project shows how architecture, with relatively modest interventions combined with smart and timeless design, can improve the quality of our living environment. And how it can preserve buildings, as an act of both sustainability and continuous history.