The Dune House

It's not often that architects get to design and build their own dreamhouses. Or that they're able to do so with a life partner.

The Dune House

But Dutch architects Jetty and Maarten Min did just that. The couple, principals of Min2 architectural office, created their vacation house in northern Holland.

The Dune House

The Mins found that designing for others isn't the same as designing for yourself.

The Dune House

The Dune House, which stands among the beachy dunes on the outskirts of the small seaside town of Bergen, proved an interesting task for the architects-as-clients.

The Dune House

How does one combine comfort with architectural daring? "It was difficult as designers to find a form in which we would be happy to stay and live in," they said.

The Dune House

They decided that they could, in fact, design an interesting house--to their own ideas about living--that would be comfortable and would age well.

The Dune House

They did so by tying the form and material of the house to its surrounding context.

The Dune House

The vaulted structure mimics the area's arched sea dunes, while the custom-made brown and red tiles that clad the exterior reference the bark of nearby trees.

The Dune House

Inside, tree trunks are integrated into the walls, echoing the dune forests outside.

The Dune House

Bending timber that buttresses the house's arched sidewalls achieves a similar effect.

The Dune House

Large windows admit plenty of sea views and light, which warms the wood-lined interiors.

The Dune House

A blonde-wood staircase links the first-floor studio to the two-story bedroom upstairs.

The Dune House

In addition to timber and glass, the architects incorporated concrete finishes and elements inside.

The Dune House

The house is sparse without being minimal. The great strength of the design is that it doesn't impose an austerity on the residents. Objects like the Mins' modest art collection are right at home.

The Dune House

A view from the main bedroom and loft, looking out to Bergen and the sea. From here, the couple say they can watch the seasons change and beach tides roll in and out.

Co.Design

What Client? An Architect Couple Design Their Own Dream Home

After years of responding to the dreams (and personalities) of clients, a couple designs and builds their vision of seaside happiness.

Architects spend their lives creating homes for other people. But not many get the chance to design and build a house of their own.
Jetty and Maarten Min, Dutch principals of Min2 architecture office, were lucky enough to collaborate on a new home and studio they made for themselves. The couple recently completed work on the vaulted three-story structure in Bergen, North Holland. It stands among sea dunes and, they tell Co.Design, expresses their "own ideas about living."

As designers, the project was a matter of continually reconciling the priorities of architectural experimentation (professional) with domestic comfort (personal). They had to literally learn to live with their work. It was "difficult," they explain, "to find a form in which we would be happy to stay in” long after the thrill of the project was gone, the house completed.

In other words, does adventurous architecture have a place in our intimate day-to-day lives and spaces? The Mins sought an answer by connecting “the materialization of the house with the place where it is situated.” The arc of the roofline mimics the rhythmic dune peaks Bergen is famous for, while also creating an airy interior with bountiful views to the North Sea. The architects developed a bespoke clay tiling system to clad the exterior in a color and texture that approximates the mood of the coastline’s grassy dune forests.

Inside, felled timber is incorporated into the architecture and used as non-load-bearing columns. The rough bark of the tree trunks adds a textural contrast to the house’s smooth glass, metal, and concrete surfaces. Arched rustic wooden joists trace the underside of the slanted roofs, adding to the home’s already vibrant material palette. The top, double-height loft is draped in a carpet made from seaweed.

The loft is the house's focal point, the locus of the Min's architectural invention. "We made a big open loft space in which everything can change and happen," they say. From that perch, they can observe the rise and fall of the sea and the seasons—noting the aging of their architectural project from the inside, in real time. One imagines they can even from there both complain about and find new sympathy for the lively demands and personalities of clients.

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