"Waking up is a party every day"
From the busy road between Wolvega and Olderbekoop, nothing can be seen of the dream home of Ingrid Gerard and Jaap Baerveldt. Via a long driveway, you reach an open area surrounded nature. In 2005, the couple and their children decided to build their dream home in this idyllic location. The old farm that was here originally did not meet the what was required anymore and was replaced with a modern home.
‘At first, we wanted to fix up the farm, but after a good talk with the contractor, it soon became apparent that this was nearly impossible,’ Ingrid says. We ‘camped’ in the farm for another six months, which allowed us to see how nature behaves in this place. In the meantime, we asked a few architects to come up with a design for a new house. We told them very little about us and we didn’t say what we liked either.’
The couple did have a few guidelines for the design. It had to be a sleek and modern home, with a home office for Ingrid’s business. But they didn’t want a white, concrete block. ‘The house had to fit into the landscape. We wanted the inside and outside to blend well.’
Eventually, they choose the design by architect Arnoud Olie of B+O Architecten; various living spaces together under one square roof, with a patio in the middle of the home.
‘The house was inspired by the pavilion in Barcelona by architect Mies van der Rohe,’ Jaap says. ‘We have been to the city a couple of times and we absolutely loved the pavilion. We hadn’t taken many pictures during our stay. Most photos we had were of the pavilion. We were very surprised when Arnoud Olie showed us his design, because the photos of the same pavilion were on the back of his plan. It was an enormous coincidence, because we had told him very little about our wishes.’
Contact with nature
The contact with nature is a very important element in the design. The walls are mainly made of glass and there is a see-through from every corner of the house. Still, Arnoud Olie decided to place a closed-off patio at the centre of the home. Not an obvious choice, thinks Ingrid: ‘I told Arnoud: ‘A patio? We want to live with our focus to the outdoors!’ But he told us that as soon as we would live here, we would feel the need to isolate ourselves from the landscape. And he was right, because it really became a fantastic spot. You can sit here completely free. And if you don’t want to be seen, you simply close the doors.’
Arnoud Olie’s design proves that a modern house fits very well in a rural environment. ‘The home has different garden walls on the outside, which run into the landscape at right angles to the outside walls. These ensure that the home is anchored in the landscape. The walls limit the view to a certain angle,’ Ingrid says. This creates a different view of the landscape from every room. Jaap: ‘At first, I had a little trouble with the garden wall from the kitchen, but Arnoud was right. If the walls hadn’t been there, we would ‘drown’ in the scenery.’ The roofs on both sides of the house provide a comfortable seating area during all seasons. ‘When it rains or if there’s a thunder storm, we can still sit outside. They have become very special sitting areas.’
Nothing in the environment detracts from the design of the house. It stands alone among the green meadows. Enclosed by trees and hedgerows, the house shapes itself within the landscape. In order to make nature stand out even more, the two opted for a simple garden. ‘We have chosen grass because the house speaks for itself. Rose beds would not fit here at all. And with so much nature around us, we don’t really need that much of a garden.’
The creative process from idea to design and then on to execution, was an inspiring journey for Ingrid: ‘I really started to live in the drawings of the house. What are the paths through the house and what are logical choices. Based on that, we made changes to the plans. I really enjoyed being a part of the creative process, and we were listened to very well.’ Jaap agrees: ‘What I really liked about Arnoud Olie is that, when we proposed an idea, he didn’t immediately shut it down. He would continue designing as long as it took until he came very close to our basic idea.’
The family has been living in this modern yet rural home since the end of 2007. To this day, the house influences their life and joy living there. ‘I think it is very special that I wake up every day and think, it’s amazing! The house is so simple, but so extraordinary at the same time. Especially the amount of glass that was used, you don’t see that anywhere else. The danger of so many façades is that it can give the house a bleak appearance. But we don’t see it that way at all. It meets all our wishes,’ Jaap says.
For Ingrid, the house turned out as beautiful as she had imagined it: ‘When the kitchen was installed, I thought it was the way it’s supposed to be. We’re not missing anything. Only one electrical socket outside. But it was my own stubbornness that caused this lack.’
The couple have a very clear answer to the question whether they will ever move: ‘No! We can still see ourselves living here when we are eighty. We’ll never again find a home or location this special. Too bad for B+O,’ Ingrid laughs.
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