Villa Waalre BY Russell Jones
Towering fir trees surround this sprawling villa in the town of Waarle, in the southern Netherlands. The large five bedroom family home covers an enclosed area of 1200 square meters over four levels and resides on a 7000 square meter plot of land. The extent of sheer white concrete, the simple tectonic forms and the evocative photography inspire a feeling of nostalgia and it’s as though the building were designed at the height of early twentieth-century modernism. Actually completed in 2015, the dwelling replaces a home once owned by Frans Otten, the son in law of Anton Philips, founder of the Dutch technology company Phillips. The new home is designed by renowned architect Russell Jones.
The villa is positioned in the same location and southern orientation as the former house, with consideration of the sand dune along the western boundary and original vegetation and garden planted over 50 years ago. The spatial layout comprises of stacked and intersecting horizontal forms and is arranged around a large ground floor living space. Two wings branch off towards the south into the landscape: one wing contains the double-height kitchen and the other a study with an enclosed terrace. The top floor accommodates the bedrooms and a master suite, with a long horizontal window which looks centrally out on the garden. Only two levels are visible above ground and the basement houses the gym, photography studio, garage and swimming pool. The 25-metre subterranean pool is hauntingly beautiful. Large voids are carved out of the volume to draw light from roof level down to the grotto-like space. A series of plunge and reflecting pools are integrated into the composition of the plan. Each pool maintains a fresh water quality through monitored filtration principles and the temperature of each can be individually regulated. The movable floor to the exterior plunge pool transforms it from a deep to a shallow reflective pool.
An enormous amount of concrete has been used in the project which envelops the external and internal walls of the house. Up close, these brilliant white walls reveal a soft and dappled texture that pays tribute to the quality of the bark of the fir trees that surround the site. According to the architect, “titanium dioxide enhanced white reinforced concrete, which forms all… vertical surfaces, is imprinted with the texture and silhouette of roughly sawn fir boards, in a module of 150mm.” Internal spaces continue with this module and compliment the joinery which is profoundly elegant, precise and simply stunning. “In subtle contrast to the textured vertical concrete surfaces, Jura Stone slabs are used on all floors, and articulated bathroom elements are formed from Statuario Marble,” explains the architect. There are no painted surfaces in the house. Instead, tactile and expressive materials are used to enhance the experience. The remarkable Villa Waarle has been designed to create and capture views where the intrinsic relationship between the exterior, interior and environment are celebrated. The result is a sculptural form that is liveable, responsive and elicits an incredible sense of calm.