North-Holland, Netherlands


A house by architect Ben van Berkel rarely could be described as a glass box. Instead the principal of the Amsterdam-based UNStudio avoids the rectilinear modernist approach for a more organic direction. Curves and swerves take charge of the parti as seen in the W.I.N.D. House, a 4,370-square-foot structure in the northwestern part of the Netherlands.

To accommodate the programmatic needs of a family living there full-time, van Berkel pinched the house into two biomorphic volumes, one for public living spaces, the other for private. Then he gouged out each of the two wings with U-shaped voids.

In plan, the result looks a bit like a carnivorous plant with four distended petals. There a family of four can find many places to retreat and enjoy the views and cross breezes. (The name of the house, W.I.N.D., actually is formed from the family’s initials.) While the living and dining areas look south to polders—reclaimed low-level land protected by dikes—the sleeping and work spaces on the north half face the woods. Because of changes in grade, the house loosely follows a split-level pattern, connected by an open steel stair.

To protect the interiors from glare, van Berkel tinted the glass and pushed back the expanses within the volume of the house to create sheltering canopies, terraces, and blinders at the sides. He also wrapped the masonry load-bearing walls in Fraké—hardwood—slats that bulge out with blob-like growths. “The shapes play off the land forms,” says van Berkel, noting that they filter light to the spaces within.

In order to keep the house energy-efficient, the architect installed a system to regulate power usage, along with a battery of other sustainability elements, including pvs on part of the roof, a central air/water heat pump, and mechanical ventilation with waste-heat recovery. Such advantages matter greatly to both client and architect. But just as significant to the design was the desire for a residence that dynamically embraced the natural surroundings while being discreetly immersed in the landscape.


Stadhouderskade 113
1073 AX Amsterdam
00 31 20 570 2040

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Ben van Berkel*, Caroline Bos, Astrid Piber* with Ger Gijzen*, René Wysk*, and Luis Etchegorry* (*registered architects/lead designers)
Team: William de Boer, Elisabeth Brauner, Albert Gnodde, Cheng Gong, Eelco Grootjes, Daniela Hake, Patrik Noome, Kristin Sandner, Beatriz Zorzo Talavera

Interior designer: UNStudio, Tim-Alkmaar

Engineer: Pieters Bouwtechniek, Haarlem

Landscape: UNStudio

Lighting: Elektrokern Solutions, Alkmaar

Acoustical: Hans Koomans Studio Design, Amsterdam

Mechanical, plumbing: Ingenieursburo Linssen bv., Amsterdam
Electrical and Domotica: Elektrokern Solutions, Alkmaar
Building Physics: Mobius Consult, Driebergen

Cost Management: Basalt bouwadvies bv., Nieuwegein, Studio Bouwhaven bv., Barendrecht

Site Management: Studio Bouwhaven bv., Barendrecht

Tender Documents: Adviesbureau Both, Haarlem

General contractor: Architectural: Bouwbedrijf MJ De Nijs en ZN bv., Warmenhuizen; MEP: BAM Techniek, Benningbroek

Inga Powilleit (interior)

Fedde de Weert (exterior)

Gross square footage:

528 m²

Total construction cost:


Completion date:




Structural system
Walls:thermal clay block walling system
Floors: precast wide slab flooring

Windows: Kumasol Minimal windows, Kumasol, Etten-Leur

Flooring: PU self levelling flooring screed, Senso, Rhenen

Ceilings: Clay rendering, Tierrafino, Amsterdam

Flooring: PU self levelling flooring screed, Senso, Rhenen

Ceilings: Clay rendering, Tierrafino, Amsterdam

Wall finishes: Clay Rendering, Tierrafino, Amsterdam; Hamam: Tadelakt, Tierrafino, Amsterdam

Terrace: Multiline Rekta 40

Outdoor floor spots: Bega 8671

Ceiling spots: Delta light Diro 126

Eating Table: Norman-Copenhagen Bell
Bathroom tables children room and atelier

Appliances / special elements:
Kitchen appliances: Siematic, Schuurman Keukens, Alkmaar, The Netherlands

Bathroom appliances: Grohe Axor Massaud

Fixtures and fittings: Vola

Carpentry: Tim-Alkmaar, Alkmaar, The Netherlands

Special elements: Podium Living room: Moso bamboo, Zwaag, The Netherlands

Lounge chair: Walter Knoll, Mychair
+49 7032 208-0 /

Furniture supplied by Co van der Horst, Amstelveen:
 tel: +31 (0)20 641 2505

Kitchen table: B&B Italia, Seven

Kitchen chairs: MDF Italia, Flow Chair

Sofa: Flexform, Evergreen

Low table: Leolux, Cimber

Carpet: Perletta Carpets

Outdoor furniture: B&B Italia, Canasta

Other unique products that contribute to sustainability:
Heating/cooling system: combined air/water heat pump with waste heat recovery system, floor heating and cooling

Energy / Power generation: PV-cells on the roofs of the two wings at the back of the house

Indoor Climate: use of natural materials such as clay stucco finishing’s for all walls and ceilings, permeable to water, vapor, avoiding chemical evaporation, and wood as façade cladding, natural tadelakt for the Hamam