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"The house is a reference to the past"

After living in Rotterdam for a long time, Toon van der Hammen and his wife, Ineke Noordhoff, exchanged the turbulent Randstad for quiet Midlaren in 1999. They fell in love with the natural surroundings and bought an old, derelict farm on the outskirts of the village. It soon became clear that they wanted to have a new house designed by an architect who really understood their wishes.

‘I really did my homework when I started looking for an architect,’ Toon says. ‘Ineke’s brother told us about B+O Architecten. This was also the firm that stood out for its design style.’ In Pieter Brink, the couple found an architect who listened closely and understood their lifestyle habits. ‘Pieter wanted to get an image of the atmosphere we wanted to live in, first. Which is why he asked, among other things, how we wake up and what we do then, precisely. He also looked at our previous house and how we had decorated it.’

It was especially important that the design would fit in with the surroundings. ‘When we started living here, there were mainly old homes in the village. A modern house wouldn’t have suited the surroundings. It could surely be a striking design, but it had to be conservative in a certain way as well. Pieter did this very well, especially with the choice of materials,’ Ineke says.

Scandinavian influences
The house refers to the past in multiple ways. For example, the dimensions are the same as those of the farm that first stood on the spot. Toon: ‘The old farm was quite large for this area. We didn’t need that much space, so Pieter designed the wings at the side. As a result, the house covers the same surface area as it had in the past.’

The house also kept its barn-like character, with the difference that it incorporated Scandinavian influences. ‘During a holiday in Scandinavia, we saw houses with large windows, which were divided into compartments. When we came back, we told Pieter that we wanted to see this in the design. He showed us a drawing of exactly such a window. We didn’t even have to tell him what we wanted. Pieter did a great job at placing himself in our shoes.’

Separate spaces
The house consists of a number of different rooms that separate all the functions from each other. Ineke had thought about this long and hard. ‘Even as a young girl, I had a kind of sketch in my head of what my house should look like. I wanted separate spaces to live, work, sleep and cook.’ The kitchen and two offices are on the ground floor. The bedroom and living room are on the upper floor. ‘When we started building we had a lovely view on the upper floor. That is why Pieter decided to place the living room on the first floor’, Toon says.

Toon and Ineke wanted the relationship with nature and the environment to come back in the design. ‘We wanted there to be kind of twilight zone between outside and inside. An example of this is the bay window on the ground floor. This brings the garden into the house in a way.’

Even though Brink took the surroundings and the history into account when creating his design, the house caused a bit of a stir in the village. ‘People thought it was a weird house. When the pillars were placed on the side of the house, a passerby said: “Look, a house with soldiers!” But there are also people who ring the doorbell and ask if they can take a look inside, because they want the same kind of house,’ Ineke says.

The couple want to live in the house for as long as possible. That is why architect Pieter Brink made sure that the house can easily be adapted to the couple’s needs. ‘If we have difficulty walking, we can live on the ground floor. My office will be turned into a small living room and Ineke’s into a bedroom.’

It is clear that the couple does not plan on ever leaving the house. Toon especially loves the aesthetics of the house. ‘No matter from which side you look at the house, it continues to surprise you. It’s a very comfortable and special house.’

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