Super Living: The Expansion of the Smart Home

The ‘homes of the future’, previously the stuff of fantasy exhibited only in World’s Fairs and science fiction, are increasingly becoming a reality. The W.I.N.D. House by UNStudio in the province of North-Holland incorporates both integrated sustainable solutions and home automation, whilst flexibility of spaces, the comprehensive assimilation of the surrounding landscape and a centrifugal circulation form the basis of the design.

As such, flexible floor plans are incorporated which allow for diversity in function in order to correspond to the family’s changing needs and thus offer a choice for gathering, seclusion, work or play. The organization of the contemporary home, therefore, enables the residents to curate their own home life, both now and in the future.

The focus is on one such home designed by UNStudio, founded in 1988 by Ben van Berkel and Caroline Bos, an international architectural design network with four full-service international offices in Amsterdam, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Frankfurt.

Ben van Berkel: “The contemporary smart home not only enables the control of appliances from afar and incorporates the necessary installations and materials to aim for a zero net energy building, but it also responds to changes in today’s lifestyles.”

The W.I.N.D. House in the province of North-Holland incorporates both integrated sustainable solutions and home automation, whilst flexibility of spaces, the comprehensive assimilation of the surrounding landscape and a centrifugal circulation form the basis of the design. Located on the outskirts of a Dutch village and close to the sea, the W.I.N.D. House is backed by a sheltered wooded area and fronted by a large, open expanse of the polder landscape. The design of the house responds to both its setting and to the seasons, whilst regulating and maximizing upon the effects of these. The organisation of the house is defined by its external conditions. The more intimate working and sleeping areas are located towards the back, where the enclosure of the nearby woods provides an intimate, private setting, while the living areas enjoy expansive and panoramic views of the polder.

landscape to the front.

Both the front and rear of the house are fully glazed and as such connect the two different outside conditions with the interior. Exterior canopies and sidewalls further strengthen this connection by framing the view towards the landscape and providing sheltered outside terraces. These sidewalls are predominantly closed and therefore additionally serve to provide privacy from the neighbouring buildings on either side.

The elevated position of the open plan living areas (kitchen/dining/living) on the first floor further enhances the views of the exterior. The garden area in front of the wings slopes gently up towards the terraces, creating the impression of a continuation of the polder landscape directly into the house.

Suggesting the shape of a simple flower, each of the four facades curves towards the inside to create four distinct petal-like wings and to draw the landscape further into the interior. These curving recesses are visually connected to each other through their view lines, which cross at the heart of the building and provide varied diagonal vistas throughout the building. At the front and back the recesses strengthen the inside-outside connection by providing cross views between the wings.

Centrifugal circulation
The vertical organisation of the building follows a centrifugal split-level principle. An open staircase at the center of the house – which forms the circulation core between the four recesses – connects the front and back wings, with the result that each turn on the stair provides expansive vistas through the house and out towards the surrounding landscape.

The entrance level houses basement functions and the carport, which is situated next to the main entrance. From the main entrance, the central staircase leads towards the children’s rooms and the music room on the first floor to the rear of the house. From here it proceeds up to the raised first level at the front of the house, where the main living area and kitchen are located.

From the living areas, the staircase leads up to the second level at the rear of the house, where the Master bedroom with hamam and the guest room are located, before ascending further up to the generous roof terrace which covers the complete two front wings of the house and overlooks the polder landscape.

Automation and energy management
A comprehensive home automation system enables integrated control of the electrical systems including solar panels and mechanical installations. Complete control of this ‘smart home’ is possible by a central touch-screen in the living area, while decentral devices provide dedicated control per room. Furthermore, control is possible remotely by independent devices via LAN-connection.

Energy from the sun is harvested by solar panels located on the roof at the back of the house. In addition, the integrated sustainability concept of the house consists of a central air/water heat pump for heating and cooling and mechanical ventilation with waste heat recovery. The heat pump provides warmth in the winter and cooling during the summer. Distribution is provided by floor heating and cooling with individual control for each room.
Heat gain is reduced through the use of tinted glass on the fully glazed front and back facades. This coated glazing further enables natural light to flood the interior spaces, whilst increasing privacy during the daytime. The walls and ceilings of the house are clad with natural clay stucco and the main walls consist of clay bricks which aid in providing a healthy indoor climate due to the evaporating effect of the clay.
The façade and the roof are clad with wooden slats that occasionally taper in and out, providing a play of varying shadows according to different views, whilst also creating soft openings for secondary windows in the kitchen and bathroom.

The W.I.N.D. House, Noord-Holland, The Netherlands, 2008-2014

Client: undisclosed

Location: Noord-Holland, The Netherlands

Building surface gross: 528 sq meter

Building surface net: 406 square meter

Building volume: 1677 m³

Building site: 2350 m²

Programme: single-family house

Status: completed 2014


UNStudio: Ben van Berkel, Caroline Bos, Astrid Piber with Ger Gijzen, René Wysk and Luis Etchegorry, William de Boer, Elisabeth Brauner, Albert Gnodde, Cheng Gong, Eelco Grootjes, Daniela Hake, Patrik Noome, Kristin Sandner, Beatriz Zorzo Talavera

Furniture & accessories featured in photos:   Supplied by Co van der Horst, Amstelveen

Photos: Interior: ©Inga Powilleit.,  Exterior: ©Fedde de Weert