The residents of IJburg (pronounced “i” burg) – a quiet Amsterdam suburb that sits on artificial islands along the IJ river – have a new, flashy neighbor, but we doubt that anyone will complain about it. Already known for his trademark design style that lives somewhere at the busy intersection of architecture, communication, community and ecology, Marc Koehler’s latest project – the IJburg House – does not disappoint. This is one cube house that refuses to be square.

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Envisioned as a monolithic sculptural mass that was carved out of solid matter rather than a series of walls raised around a defined structure, the IJburg House contrasts introverted private spaces that form the mass with open collective spaces that seem to have been carved out of the solid volume. The collective spaces, or removed chunks of the mass, effectively connect the house with the street, the garden, and the roof terrace. The house is at once stable, simple, and permanent.

Rather than be limited by the small lot size, Koehler was inspired to create a vertical garden, merging nature and culture in on simple structure. The brick detailing draws inspiration from the famous Amsterdamse school style of the 1920s and serves both as gorgeous ornament and as an integral underlay for the different sorts of climbing plants that will eventually grow up the facade. Plant barges are built in on several levels.

Besides boasting a living wall that will surely be the envy of all of IJburg, the ecological character of the house is reinforced by the use of passive and active solar-energy and an earth heating-pump. Within the house, storage spaces are invisibly integrated into the thick walls. IJburg House recently made the awards shortlist in the private house category at the first-ever World Architecture Festival in Barcelona.

+ Marc Koehler

Via World Architecture News