Project X by René van Zuuk



Dutch architect René van Zuuk has designed a house for himself in Almere in the Netherlands.


Called Project X, the villa includes an office space and is located at the Fantasy District, an area for experimental housing.


The following is from René van Zuuk:


Project X
(Text by Maarten Willems)

Behind the somewhat mysterious name ‘Project X’, hides the design of René van Zuuk and his family’s own residence. The villa with a small office space is located right next to the architect’s former residence Psyche in Almere’s The Fantasy district, an area for experimental housing.


Because the old house serves as his architect’s office since 2004, it occurred that the two plots could be consolidated into one garden. The garden area is optimized by leaving only the width of a parking space between Project X and its neighbouring house.


From an urban point of view three major considerations were important: the box-shaped appearance of all the Fantasy dwellings, the fixed building line and the pattern of alternating building heights. Placing the lower storey half below ground level resulted in House X being lower than the adjacent dwellings, thus fitting in the height sequence.


The distance from the living room to the water is reduced to half a metre, creating a sense of living along the waterfront despite the rather modest size of the canal. This feeling is being intensified by the large expanse of glass in the living room offering a panoramic view on the canal.


Only the exceptionally high entrance door infringes the closed appearance of the box-shaped upper storey enclosing the bedrooms. Its façade is cladded with large thin cement tiles with a continuing branch-like pattern of grooves softening and reviving the rigid box shape.


The scanting daylight entering the bedrooms comes through rooflights and a few subtle ‘eyelets’ in the façade. Because of the small dimensions of the façade openings the main volume remains intact. The upper volume is separated from the lower storey by means of a glass strip. On the garden side the strip is storey high.


The basic design is largely defined by the latitude enabled by the Dutch Building Decree. The maximum volume allowed on the particular location is 500 m³, while the residence plus office required 750 m³.


Nowadays the Building Decree creates the opportunity to build up to 2.5 metres outside an external wall, without submitting a planning application under the condition that it does not border a public street or public park.


Therefore the building part perpendicular to the street is maximized in length to create as much extra building volume as possible. According to another provision in the Decree the extension can only start one meter from the front façade.


To provide the ground-floor level with a uniform width, the upper floor protrudes one meter in the direction of the street. For the office section the rule that allows an annexe up to thirty square metres without a planning permission is utilized.


This extra part is constructed as a basement to make it secondary to the living area, despite its street side location. To emphasize its commercial and subordinate character the exterior concrete surface is left exposed.


Inventive interpretation of these loopholes in the legislation has resulted not just in the space required, but also in unprecedented restrained and rich architecture.




Posted on Wednesday October 22nd 2008 at 12:55 am by Matylda Krzykowski. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Fbot

    Amazing elevations and views, well done

  • hanji

    delicate work!
    I like the windows between the 2 stories

  • Marcus Des

    Looks very minimal in a way we’ve become accustomed to from lots of Japanese architects. I like the bit of spiral staircase visible in the kitchen, makes for a bit of humor in the otherwise somewhat severe interior.
    I wonder what the little boy thinks of it all. All in all it looks like another beautiful, minimal showcase which makes me wonder how comfortable it will be living in it.

  • HJ

    It looks interesting and I love how the limitations and guide-lines pushed the architect to come up with this project. But when you look at their other work, it doesn’t really fit. It’s like the architect doesn’t like his own aesthetic approach when he himself has to live in it.

  • Kris Adams

    This is very cold. There just seems a vast mass of ‘dead’ space.

  • kingmu

    THIS little boy would be extremely comfortable living here.

  • I absolutely love it. When it comes to domestic spaces, I’ve always been partial to rectilinear designs like this. Mention is made of the fact that this was built in “the Fantasy District, an area for experimental housing.” Where can I buy tickets???

  • Gwen

    I’m intrigued too by the “Fantasy District”. Are there any such areas here in North America? What a interesting concept.

  • mr. me

    Why do modern houses look like fancy shoe-stores these days. I prefer a comfortable Breuer.

  • heath

    oma did a smarter version of this one years ago.

  • si increible
    los detalles en los muros exteriores

  • ZYNK

    Pretty good. Wouldn’t like having stairs in my kitchen!!! They seem to be misfitted.

  • atomant

    i see an electrical pylon in the photo. bad location and theres also a kid in the house!! they kinda cause cancer and stuff.

  • One

    Spaces looks like a corridor, which is a pitty for this large house. For the rest?

    Well I do not fancy grey too much, but it looks expensive enough.

  • Nicholas Criticos

    detailed yet effortless , and there is an amazing quietness with varying volumes and controlled light .

  • tyk

    I dislike making elevations, you know, but this is taking it too far. in any case such a ‘style’ has been done many many times over.
    in this house i might become a quiet person. not at all sure i would like that. where’s the mess that every house is? is there another layer to this house? is there something we don’t know like a zero C or other super efficiency?