It’s no secret that we at est are fans of the uncomplicated beauty and deceptive simplicity of modernist architecture. But rarely do we see an expression of modernism of the scale or magnitude of Villa Waalre, by Melbourne-born architect Russell Jones. Emerging from a lush, forested landscape outside of Eindhoven in the Netherlands, Villa Waalre’s striking architectural mass of white concrete slabs may appear bold and conspicuous at first, but looking closer, it’s Jones’s sensitive use of materials and thoughtful composition that make this home at one with its surrounds.
Dominated by conifers and an ancient sand dune, Villa Waalre’s setting is dense, verdant and wild. The home’s geometric form, comprised of several rectangular blocks, is a logical and restrained response to its environment. But rather than being an ode to sparse and sleek materials, Villa Waalre’s use of white, reinforced concrete imprinted with the texture and silhouette of roughly-sawn wood is fundamental to its appeal.
Used on vertical surfaces both internally and externally, the concrete is a reflection of the bark found on surrounding fir trees, and creates a welcome softness to the home’s precise structure. A subterranean swimming pool is a serene expression of Villa Waalre’s ultra-discreet design, cooling the home from below in a demonstration of how thoughtful design can encourage a passive and economical approach to sustainability.
Villa Waalre’s striking architectural mass of white concrete slabs may appear bold and conspicuous at first, but looking closer, it’s Jones’s sensitive use of materials and thoughtful composition that make this home at one with its surrounds.
A respect for the home’s environment is evident inside, too, where a muted palette of cream, grey and beige provides an elegant backdrop to take in views of the surrounding forest. Grooved concrete walls are complemented by refined stone floors and marble surfaces in the kitchen and bathrooms. Gossamer linen curtains are the only dressing on otherwise unadorned walls, while grey bouclé rugs in the living area provide a cosy touch. With such a subdued approach to its interior, Villa Waalre could easily veer too far into unyielding, museum-like territory, but the ample use of timber in both fixtures and furniture imbues natural warmth to the home.
Large glazed windows in the home’s main living, kitchen and bedroom spaces offer generous views of the home’s lush green surrounds, creating a seamless connection with the outdoors that is reinforced with floor-to-ceiling glass doors, effortlessly connecting the home to its environment. Through its angular, composite construction, Villa Waalre’s external form can be glimpsed from inside, allowing its residents to appreciate the sensitive way Jones has stitched the home into the landscape through both its design and materiality.