LEIDEN (NL) - The Netherlands, a country where housing has traditionally been built by housing associations and developers, has recently taken to experimenting with owner-built housing. By issuing private building plots, which are then filled by a variety of different architects, individuals get the chance to realize the home of their dreams, while the neighbourhood acquires a more varied and apparently naturally evolved appearance.
Nieuw Leyden, an area north of the centre of Leiden, is one such owner-builder district. The spatial masterplan, drawn up by MVRDV in 2005, allowed for a remarkably high number of private plots that could be filled in without reference to the design review guidelines. The future owners were free to design their house the way they wanted, so long as it fitted within the allotted building envelope.
Within this masterplan, 24H-architecture designed two houses of 180 m2. To ensure adequate daylight penetration, the architects came up with an unconventional solution; in both houses they designed a 'canyon', a gap that allows the sun to penetrate deep within the house. This canyon is also the main organizing element – there are no other dividing walls, and it is present in every space. The canyon walls are solid or perforated according to need, so that they filter the light.