Zuidzande retirement home by Marie-José Van Hee Architecten

Concrete and timber retirement house sits amongst a Dutch orchard

Board-marked concrete forms the walls of this rural home designed by Belgian studio Marie-José Van Hee Architecten for a Dutch businessman (+ slideshow).

Zuidzande by Marie-José Van Hee Architecten

The four-storey home called Zuidzande sits on the the site of a 19th-century farmhouse and orchard in Zeeland, a province on the Netherlands' western coast. Marie-José Van Hee Architecten was commissioned to design the retirement home for a businessman who, having spent many years travelling, wished to settle in his place of birth.

"The brief was to design a house for a single man, a house fitting like a tailored suit," explained studio architect Sam De Vocht. "He had acquired the building plot in the region where he was born after a nomadic professional life."

Zuidzande by Marie-José Van Hee Architecten

After demolishing the existing rundown farmhouse, the studio devised a new concrete and timber home for the client.

Planning restrictions stipulated the new structure could not exceed the 850-cubic-metre volume of the original building. To achieve this, the team created a large ground floor with glazing that maximises scenic views, while upper levels have a smaller floor plan to reduce the overall volume.

Zuidzande by Marie-José Van Hee Architecten

Horizontal timber boards have left their mark on the concrete exterior of a three-storey concrete tower, which has a short chimney stack at one side. Two timber-framed volumes angle from the base of the concrete tower, creating a larger Y-shaped ground-floor plan.

Zuidzande by Marie-José Van Hee Architecten

These two wings are covered in vertical lengths of black-stained timber – a reference to the timber architecture of the region.

Zuidzande by Marie-José Van Hee Architecten

"We sought to have the building also correspond in material to the nearby coast and thus looked for a concrete bright in colour," De Vocht told Dezeen.

Zuidzande by Marie-José Van Hee Architecten

"The surface was finished with horizontal planks, which we also used vertically to clad the ground floor volume. The black-and-white stained carpentry directly references the local vernacular," he added.

Zuidzande by Marie-José Van Hee Architecten

Glazed doors front the interior angle of the blackened-timber block, directing views from a V-shaped living and dining area into the orchard. The doors slide back to give access to a slim concrete patio sheltered by the overhang of the black timber roof.

Zuidzande by Marie-José Van Hee Architecten

A hearth sits in the centre of the ground floor, separating the living room from the kitchen. The concrete chimney breast rises above the hearth, forming a spine to which the smaller upper floors are attached.

Zuidzande by Marie-José Van Hee Architecten

"We looked to geometrically sculpt the chimney," said De Vocht. "The height of the concrete volume, about 12 metres above the ground level, was a response to the presence of the only other building on the site – an 18th-century barn with an impressive roof."

Zuidzande by Marie-José Van Hee Architecten

A stairwell and elevator occupy much of the ground floor of the concrete block, with a small toilet and entrance hall to one side. The main entrance sits in a recessed doorway in this concrete volume.

Zuidzande by Marie-José Van Hee Architecten

Timber stairs connect to the master suite on the first floor, a library and bathroom on the second floor, and a roof terrace. A notch in the concrete wall allows users to peep over the parapet to take in views of the agricultural landscape.

Zuidzande by Marie-José Van Hee Architecten

Since moving into the house the owner has become father to two children and this second-floor library has been commandeered as a children's bedroom.

Photography is by David Grandorge.

Zuidzande by Marie-José Van Hee Architecten
Site plan – click for larger image
Zuidzande by Marie-José Van Hee Architecten
Ground floor plan – click for larger image
Zuidzande by Marie-José Van Hee Architecten
First floor plan – click for larger image
Zuidzande by Marie-José Van Hee Architecten
Second floor plan – click for larger image
Zuidzande by Marie-José Van Hee Architecten
Third floor plan – click for larger image
Zuidzande by Marie-José Van Hee Architecten
Cross sections – click for larger image
Zuidzande by Marie-José Van Hee Architecten
Section one – click for larger image
Zuidzande by Marie-José Van Hee Architecten
Section two – click for larger image