AMSTERDAM (NL) - Architect Marc Koehler set up his own practice in Amsterdam in 2005 and it is here that he designs modestly-sized but innovative buildings. For a private home in the new Amsterdam district of IJburg, he devised an unusual brick facade that combines the sculptural qualities of early-20th-century Amsterdam School architecture with the ecological characteristics required in the 21st.
The house is made up of introverted spaces hidden away behind the imperforate facade elements, and several open, social spaces which are cut out of the monolithic mass and which connect the interior with the exterior – the street, garden and roof terrace. Situated on the ground floor are the bedrooms, the bathroom and a multi-purpose hall (entrance, studio, playroom and office). The first floor is a completely open living area with abundant daylight. The relation between indoor and outdoor spaces is further reinforced by the fact that the facade is designed as a vertical garden, for apart from their decorative function, the staggered projecting bricks also act as supports for climbing plants. In time the house will be covered with kiwi and grape vines, espaliered apple trees and climbing roses.
Nor is the green facade the only 'sustainable' aspect of this house. It also uses passive solar energy, an earth-coupled heat pump, solar cells on the roof and a balanced mechanical ventilation system throughout.