Save a tree. Build around it. That’s definitely an interesting way of looking at things. This beautiful home done in a modern style was designed by the MVRDV Architecture firm, and is located in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Its exterior is made of white bricks, matching with a set of modern and simple windows. However, its most interesting aspect is the connection to the backyard. Curved glass walls border the connection between the yard and the social areas of the home. Casa Kwantes is a house from the outside appears as a rectangular box, however the back of the house opens up to wrap around a mature olive tree.
When balancing municipality requirements for a retro style architecture, the home became a contemporary take on 1930s modernism with its long, cream, shallow brickwork, full-height glazing, and the contrasting integration of the flat and fluid, open and enclosed, flexible and defined. The entrance to the home is tucked away within a small alcove. As the newly built homes in the vicinity are more vernacular in their modernist approach, this variation on a more avant-garde architecture has the been subject of discussions with the municipality.
Two tiers of glazing sweep around a stout olive tree in the back garden of this residence, contrasting with the almost windowless brick walls that face the street and neighbouring houses. According to the architects: Casa Kwantes bases itself around the clients’ desire for seclusion and privacy, whilst having a maximum of daylight and open living spaces. From the road, the bare brick wall offers only a partial glimpse into the property and family life through an opening of the white brickwork facade – a subtle indented entrance leading into an initially dark and enclosed entrance hall. In contrast, the reverse of the property completely opens up to the south with curved windows following the entire winding facade wrapped around a central olive tree. Small cream bricks make up the side and street-facing walls, where an indented entrance and just a couple of windows give glimpses into the residence.
Once inside the home, the entrance hall opens up to reveal floor-to-ceiling curved windows that follow the shape of the tree. Along a wall of wood cabinetry hides a bathroom.
The living room’s backbone is a long fitted closet of wood hiding all domestic functions including the basement, entrance, guest toilet, kitchen cabinets and pantry. The spectacular kitchen, done in a minimalist style, with a great number of storage options, has clear views of the garden through the glass walls. The flooring from inside continues outside and essentially turns the courtyard into an extension of the house i.e. as an exterior room. A balcony follows the curaveous glazing on the upper floor to allow the residents to look down to a secluded patio surrounding the tree, and out into the south-facing garden. There is a small basement for extra storage, and in addition, a sun trap patio at the bottom of the garden which provides an extra paved barbeque space for Dutch summer days.
“The curved glass continuously wraps its way around the interior facade on both levels, creating continuous views from one room to another,” explained Jacob van Rijs, a co-founder of MVRDV alongside Winy Maas and Nathalie de Vries.