Villa in the Woods
Pleasant living with nature within reach. The residents of Villa LP spend most of their time in the Waalrese woods. Architect Frank Willems designed a transparent villa in which the boundaries between inside and outside blur.
Open your laptop to the sound of rustling trees in the background while you enjoy a wooded panorama a few feet back on the lounge terrace. In short, design a home and workspace in which nature comes into its own. That was the design assignment for Frank Willems of WillemsenU. Willems clarifies: “The residents did not want the office to become an extension of the house. Just open the front door, step into the fresh air and step into a fresh and tidy office. You have to physically feel that you are in a different place. That has been achieved with this design. The common denominator is nature. You can fully experience that in every room of this house.”
Take a chance
The leafy surroundings of Waalre were originally a production forest for the Limburg mining industry. The plot of Villa LP is hidden between the deciduous and coniferous forest. Various parties looked at the building plot, but many buyers did not agree because of the deviating, deep shape of the zoning plan. Willems did not let himself be stopped from creating something beautiful in this place. “The surrounding houses have a more castle-like appearance. We just saw an opportunity to do something completely different here. When I came here for the first time, I was impressed by the nature. After research, we also knew pretty quickly that we wanted to preserve much of the surrounding vegetation. Whether in the kitchen, sitting area, or bathroom, it was possible to enclose the house on all sides with forest.”
The design for Villa LP is characterized by its elongated shape. The roof forms the connecting element between the living and working space. In addition, all our energy is generated by using the roof surface as a solar meadow. The workspace on the north side is disconnected from the residential block through a courtyard garden. Only a few wooden beams connect the two parts. On the left side of the house, vertical wooden slats provide privacy. Parallel to the living room, bathroom, and bedroom, a glass facade with a terrace is situated on the south side over the full width. Willems describes his design as simple but no less powerful. “The design feels like a ship that has been picked up and landed here in the middle of the forest. Due to the long sightlines, the length is optimally used. Because we kept the design simple, the environment comes into its own even more. Combined with the high pine trees, you sometimes almost feel like you are in the Californian wilderness.”
The glass facades on the south side of Villa LP are triple-glazed for extra insulation and comfort. Because, in addition to the practical requirements, the view in this house is also of great importance, Willems attached great importance to the glass and framework. “When three-quarters of your home consists of glass, you have to know what the options are. That is why we are already in the preliminary phase with Reynaers Aluminum and facade builder Gruijters Aluminum BV. went to the table. After all, our ideas had to be feasible. We were emphatically looking for profiles that are not too prominent because they detract from the view. The same goes for the sliding doors. You want them to be present as little as possible. Moreover, they must fit into the rhythm of the building. Because Reynaers Aluminum thought along with us."
When asked about Willem's design philosophy, he doesn't blow his mind. For him, designing an iconic building is not a primary goal. “We're not a big fan of ooh and aah architecture,” Willems explains. “As an architect, you are a passer-by. You put the interests of the residents first. That is why it is our goal to design a home for them that completely matches their wishes. We will then be humble. Both to the residents and to the location. Respect for nature is an important benchmark in this respect. Of course, it's nice when your design gets praise. When we hear from residents that they never want to leave their home again, that is the best appreciation for me.”
- Gruijters Aluminium v.o.f.