Preserving the grandeur

Innovative Rotterdam-based office MASA architects created Villa West, which was once an abandoned former war period sports building constructed in the 1940s. It was never intended to be renovated, real estate developers thought of demolishing it as no one would imagine making anything useful out of it. However, the client bought the site and decided to turn the ‘useless’ building into a private villa. Converting this space into a liveable environment presented a special challenge and made the project a unique experience.
The work started by dismantling the original structure, an inspirational moment came when walls and ceiling were stripped bare and the raw beauty of the original materials was revealed, which in combination with the vast space filled with light presented a great point of departure. The concrete structures were originally used to obtain large spans for the sports hall, visually increase the volume and define the interior space. Subdividing it into separate rooms while preserving the ‘grandeur’ of the original space was a tricky balance.
Individually designed furniture elements were used instead of standard partition walls to do the trick. These furniture units do not touch the ceiling. Instead, glass or mirror surfaces are placed on top of them to create visual continuity by letting the original ceiling ‘cut through the entire space, while sufficiently isolating the rooms. Thus, a cozy environment of the human scale was created, leaving the visual continuity of the original space uninterrupted.
Made to measure furniture units designed from natural materials – each material applied only once – create a variety of interconnected spaces, each having a unique atmosphere. The boundary between the interior space and the garden was intentionally blurred following the principle of visual continuity. The windows which were initially not reaching the floor level were cut through to the ground level to make large openings along the façade. Reflected in the polished semi-gloss concrete floor, large windows create a feeling of lightness and openness, in a way making nature ‘step in’ and enrich the interior space.
The deck surface of the outdoor garden continues to the floor level of the interior. The 4-5m height row of bamboo creates a buffer space separating the villa from the surrounding apartment buildings. The Villa boasts an elegant indoor spa area located at the end of the house. A great view opens from the swimming pool ‘box’ framed by a black contour of the glass wall, to the ‘heart’ of the house: the kitchen and living room, placed along the same axis.
A 3m high mirror surface placed on top of the glass wall from the side of the living room, creates an optical effect of an endless ceiling, visually expanding the space. A new metal façade was added in order to provide perfect insulation, allowing to preserve the ‘naked’ surface of brick walls and have a warm temperature inside the house. Invisible from the street, the Villa houses generous spaces of great quality, making it one if the largest houses in the city.

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