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Project X by René van Zuuk, Almere, Netherlands

Categories: Architecture + Interiors

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"X" is always associated with mystery – putting a "name" to the unknown, the fantastic, the extreme. Considering that the former residence of Dutch architect René van Zuuk was named Psyche, X becomes even more dark and mysterious. The house is located in Almere, Netherlands, in an area called The Fantasy District, reserved for experimental housing.
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Having his old home as an office since 2004 meant that the two buildings, as they are nearby, could unite their respective plots.  That turned out to be the new garden, with only a parking space left between Project X and the neighboring house. As the area’s buildings look like boxes, van Zuuk had to remain within this constraint, having also to design within a strict building line and keep a pattern of alternating building heights. Thus, he decided to lower the first level in the ground – almost half of its height is underground, making it fit with the rest of the buildings of the area, height wise.

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By placing the living room front half a meter off the canal in front of it, he gave the impression of living on the verge of water, despite the small size of the canal. Of course the glass panels covering that side of the building help intensify that effect. The entrance stands out by its height, the only thing disturbing the simplicity of the cement clad box that encloses the bedrooms at the upper floor. To soften the box shape, a branch pattern is carved into the thin cement tiles. The bedrooms are lit by skylights and small slits in the cement tile cladding.

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Upper and lower volumes are separated by a glass strip, which becomes as high as one storey at the garden side. The inventive interpretation of Dutch building rules regarding volume, dimensions and use of space, resulted into the realization of a smartly designed, beautifully built house and office.

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