Rural Living in High Density: The Brabant Homestead
The landscape of the province of Brabant is ruined. Pollution caused by decades of intensive agriculture has systematically erased every form of Arcadian identity. Nonetheless, the myth of Brabant's rural charm survives intact. The central location, as well as the legacy of a close-knit road network, guarantees ease of access. A devilish pact between Arcadian existence an modern reality is what distinguishes Brabant today from other urban an rural regions and ensures its popularity as a residential environment. It is in Brabant's best interest to sustain the myth. This forms the backdrop to a design task fraught with contradictions. Meeting the massive demand for extensive use of space makes intensification the only option, and herein lies the paradox. Put more directly: the design proposes a form of living that caters for the rural lifestyle in high density.
In the conventional house the division of functions results in a series of spaces each used for a different purpose. Consequently, many spaces remain unused for large parts of the day. Yet in the traditional Brabant farmhouse, where living space was scarce, occupants slept in an alcove or stede (cf. old English suffix 'stead'). Reintroduction of the 'stead' reduces living functions to alcoves in which space an furniture become one. Different 'steads' are positioned off a single space, which is then claimed, as it were by those 'steads' in use at any given time. Erected around this 'homestead' is a glazed dome similar to the original envelop of the house in terms of form. The resulting configuration is a formal inner zone and informal outer zone. This outhouse - the cavity space - creates a condition between which is a cross between inside and outside, between house and garden. A condition on the edge of field and blacktop, where red and green converge and where resident and gardener are the same person.
in cooperation with Urban Affairs
programme Region specific architecture
client SEV (Stuurgroep Experimenten Volkshuisvesting), Stimuleringsfonds voor Architectuur