Charred timber and glass villa by VVKH Architecten is embedded in a dune

Charred timber and glass villa by VVKH Architecten is embedded in a sand dune

The blackened-timber facades of this house set in a coastal nature reserve near The Hague are interrupted by carefully positioned openings that frame views of the surrounding forest.

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Villa Meijendel takes its name from the nature reserve in which it is located, where a forest meets a valley of dunes. The house, designed by local studio VVKH Architecten, is constructed from concrete and set into the side of a sandy slope.

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The building's design aims to create a dialogue with its surroundings, both through the way the form and materials engage with the landscape, and through the use of glass to provide views out from and into the house.

Villa Meijendel by Ronald Knappers

"Villa Meijendel is a fascinating artefact, a sort of wooden forest hut fully integrated in the landscape, and with a strong connection between the interior spaces and immediate surroundings," said the architects.

Villa Meijendel by Ronald Knappers

The boxy geometric structure is entirely clad in charred timber, creating a textured black surface that appears different depending on how sunlight falls on it. The exterior finish, inspired by the ancient Japanese shou sugi ban technique, also helps to preserve the wood.

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"Sometimes the house is almost invisible against the dark edge of the forest, sometimes it sparkles in the sunlight because of the glittering charred wood," said the architects, "as such forming a background for the play of shadows of tree trunks and branches. The villa hides and reveals itself in the landscape."

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The property has its entrance on a middle level accommodating an office and two bedrooms. Stairs ascend to an open-plan kitchen and living space, and drop down to a master bedroom and gym room.

In order to satisfy regulations stipulating the maximum dimensions that a property on this sensitive site could occupy, a garage and technical room are situated in a basement level integrated into the dune.

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The dune's irregular shape is echoed by the varying height of the building's roofline, which responds to the requirements of the internal programme and the arrangement of the various split levels.

The outcome of the stepped configuration is a range of spaces with different relationships to the surroundings. Windows and openings are sized and positioned to ensure optimal views and natural light, whilt providing privacy where it is needed.

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The living room features a full-height corner window that looks out through the trees towards the dune valley.

A lower window facing to the rear and a large glazed surface lining the adjacent double-height circulation area face out onto the forest. At the far end of the first floor, sliding glass doors lead out from the kitchen onto a terrace.

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The master suite and gym room are flanked by a glazed wall that looks onto the garden and swimming pool. A folding screen featuring vertical timber slats can be used to conceal these spaces, while still allowing a partial view out through the gaps between the wooden trunks.

The material palette – concrete, steel and anodised aluminium – was chosen to complement the tones and textures of the surrounding environment. Each material is applied in a raw, untreated form.

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Internally, the walls are finished with smooth concrete, while the rough-sawn Douglas fir beams supporting the ceilings feature a distinctive grain.

Photography is by Christian van der Kooy.

More images and plans

Ground floor plan
First floor plan
Second floor plan
Section one
Section two
Villa Meijendel by Ronald Knappers
Villa Meijendel by Ronald Knappers