Nestled within the picturesque landscapes of Eindhoven, the Netherlands, stands a remarkable dwelling that defies convention. Crafted by the ingenious minds at WillemsenU, The House Under the Ground emerges as a harmonious fusion of architecture and nature. With a deliberate intention to seamlessly merge with its rural surroundings, this abode serves as a sanctuary for its fortunate owners, offering respite from the bustling world outside.
Situated on the site of a former goat house, the two-bedroom residence boasts a compact footprint but manages to create a sense of spaciousness and generosity within its walls. The roof, constructed from poured concrete, conceals three levels of living spaces, two of which are situated below ground level. Despite its partially subterranean nature, the house is flooded with natural light and thoughtfully connects its occupants to the surrounding outdoor environment.
The design of the house has been meticulously crafted to strike a balance between privacy and openness. Accessible via a narrow path that intersects the “hill,” the entrance leads to the upper level of the house, which houses an open-plan kitchen and dining area with an outdoor terrace nestled amidst the meadow. The lower levels can be reached either through a glass elevator (ensuring the house remains accessible for future needs) or by ascending the floating, crystal-clear-laminated glass staircase. A skylight positioned above this void allows daylight to permeate through the translucent materials, creating a luminous atmosphere.
At the first lower level, an open-plan living room overlooks a private subterranean garden that gives the impression of descending into a small valley adorned with naturalistic landscaping by Bert Huls. The primary bedroom is located on the second lower level, where daylight effortlessly filters through. The house also benefits from its partially underground construction, as heat is extracted from the earth using a heat pump, resulting in energy efficiency. Additionally, the earth acts as a natural insulator, keeping the house warm in winter and cool in summer.
While embracing the natural surroundings, the house also provides protection through the use of resilient, contemporary materials. The facade is adorned with rhythmically board-marked concrete, wooden slats (a nod to the previous goat shed), and Corten steel. Floor-to-ceiling windows allow for ample natural light, while the interior features concrete facing on the floors, walls, and ceilings, creating a striking contrast against the verdant landscape, softened by the graceful curve of the roof.
Marrit Winkeler, the project architect at WillemsenU, emphasizes the significance of life in her designs, encompassing both human and non-human elements, as well as flora and fauna. Drawing a parallel between architecture and poetry, she believes that incorporating literary techniques allows for the transcendence of real-world limitations, enabling the exploration of unconventional architectural possibilities. Just as poetry has the power to unveil and evoke concealed layers of emotion and meaning, architecture possesses a similar ability to reveal profound depths of sentiment and significance.