Hidden House
by LMNL office for architecture and landscape

Hidden House is located in one of the oldest streets in Rotterdam, 35 meters down a narrow gravel path, nestled in the lush gardens of the surrounding villas.

Built between 1820 and 1840 as the gardener’s quarters of a former mansion, the dilapidated row house was in need of full renovation and upgrading to modern standards when purchased in 2016.

Problems such as rising damp, rotten floor beams, and sagging windows were all addressed by LMNL office using sustainable materials and careful attention to detail.

“This project gave us a chance to launch our own office and directly test out materials and methods we believe in. All sustainable materials, damp open building techniques, and getting back to basics like the use of lime and clay plasters as well as lesser known things like sea shell insulation” LMNL recounts

Wood fibre insulates the whole house from the inside since the exterior is a protected historic facade. The crawl space is insulated and kept dry with a layer of shells from the North Sea, an ancient Roman technique.

This method protects the solid brick walls, floors and roof, allowing moisture transfer as it is damp open, while providing a stable and healthy interior climate which requires minimal heating during the winter.

With a surface area of just 100sqm, each centimeter of space is used to its utmost extent. The ground floor comprises the main living space. The kitchen, with its white wall and green island topped with marble, is a bespoke design and gives form to the centre of the house.

One single room holding the dining, kitchen and living functions. A modern wood burning tile stove anchors the space.

Going up the custom stair/bookcase, one finds two large bedrooms, a small office space and one full bathroom comprising the private living spaces.

The characteristic lime plaster creates a subtle play of light across the walls while ash floors with a white soap finish keep the floor a neutral color.

The house is surrounded on all sides by gardens. The front garden or the white garden, acts as an entry to the house. There is also a small kitchen garden where vegetables can be grown in the summer.

It includes trees such as juneberry, Himalayan birch and witch hazel form a canopy above hundreds of different kinds of perennial plants which form the owners budding botanical collection.

The side garden is a narrow space planted with ferns and climbers. The back garden, displaying a yellow and blue theme, is anchored by a multistem weeping willow which grows next to the water’s edge at the rear.

Home to a hive of local black bees

A bespoke greenhouse with direct access from the living room provides an extension to the house, and it is used as a garden room and winter depot for more delicate plants. The garden continues up on the roof, with sedum cassettes on the flat areas.

Author LMNL office for architecture and landscape
Location Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Year 2017-2020
Collaborators A.A. van Bergeijk, 13Speciaal, Van Vliet Kassenbouw, VIC landscapes.
Client Self-commission
Surface 100 sqm (house) + 200 sqm (garden)
Photography Sybren Lempsink & Andrea Chlad

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a project powered by Itinerant Office

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