House of Rolf
Located in the center of Utrecht, the Netherlands, the project of Dutch architect Rolf Bruggink and designer Niek Wagemans – the ‘House of Rolf’ – is a renovation of a 19th century coach house into a living+working space. With the model ‘leaving nothing to waste’ this project is based on the reuse of materials from a demolished office building next door.
The coach house, originally built in 1895, was part of an aristocrat’s estate. In between the main residence and the coach house a wooden pavilion used as an office building was built in 1955. Even though it was design as a temporary structure, the building stood for 57 years and was only taken down when, in 2011, the architect purchased part of the estate.
The demolition materials were recovered and used to build the house core, a freestanding structure that holds all main functions – kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, bath and office. The position of this sculptural object, right in the middle of the 230 sqm rectangular brick building, is what divides and connects the different zones inside the house. The first area, the entrance, was left empty so the original coach house features can be taken in. The middle zone is where the core structure sits. The third zone holds a second structure, only this one is attached to the house itself, for private living spaces.
The only intervention made to the original building was a cut out on the back wall for a new panoramic window to provide natural light into the space.
Using solely materials from the former office building as the construction material and without a pre-defined budget, Rolf Bruggink and Niek Wagemans started to plan the renovation using a scale model. No technical drawings were made and the design developed along with the construction process.
The first step was to put up two walls made of old radiators. Shortly after, the wooden pavilion had to be completely dismantled so all the materials could be sorted and allocated to a specific part of the design. The wooden floor and partition wall was constructed from trusses and purlins and the insulation from the inner walls of the office building were reused in the shell of the coach house.
The furniture chosen for the ‘House of Rold’ follows the same design principles, like the ‘Accidental Carpet’ made from old blankets (Tejo Remy & Rene Veenhuizen), the ‘Rocking chair’ made from old CD covers (Dirk van der Kooij) or the layered dining table designed by Rolf using wood from houses that are either being taken down or remodeled.
The renovation process took five years. “Working with re-used materials cost a lot more time because of preparing the materials but also to figure out where you can use materials (…) when you work with reused materials, I think you need more creativity, flexibility and time!”, says Rolf.
See more about the project here: