Although a uniform grey, Cino Zucchi’s Van Straaten villa in Enschede, eastern Netherlands, uses a medley of volumes and cladding of contrasting materials and geometries to create two distinctly different elevations front and back.
The villa’s east-facing main façade overlooking the street and its short sides comprise a series of different-sized volumes set at different depths. The volumes have been slid horizontally over each other so that the south-facing block juts out slightly beyond the building perimeter giving it the appearance of a tower with windows on all sides overlooking the surrounding low-density suburban landscape. Glazed lights both separate and link the different volumes. The recessed sections and segmented façade give the perception of a house whose different volumes correspond to different interior environments. The horizontal lay of the brick-mosaic cladding on the south, east and north façades is broken by a series of small, irregularly placed horizontal windows set flush with the façade and larger, recessed lights. Both give a sense of the thickness of the surrounding masonry.
In contrast, the flat west elevation overlooking the garden is almost crenulated in appearance. A low double garage placed against the side of the building forms an L to create a secluded back yard behind the house. The cladding of the rear elevation - vertical titanium zinc sheet strips by VM Zinc - makes for a single wall surface of different heights. A large glazed living room wall connects the interior with the paved surface running around the house and separating it from the garden.
Inside, the ground floor is divided into two functional areas: the more communal zone of kitchen and dining room on the south side, and to the north, a longer area divided by two columns containing a large living room with bays for one-on-one activities, an artist’s studio and TV room.
A steel and natural-stone staircase practically in the centre of the house plays a key role. Set adjacent to the glazed wall overlooking the garden, its open-design is a dynamic sculptural feature, its double ramp intimating the double height inside. A fireplace is set into the low staircase wall. Smaller than the ground floor, the night zone on the first floor is arranged as a corridor leading off into three bedrooms. A more private staircase leads to the upper level that gives space to the master bedroom.