• House like Garden / MARC KOEHLER ARCHITECTS
  • House like Garden / MARC KOEHLER ARCHITECTS
  • House like Garden / MARC KOEHLER ARCHITECTS


The 140 m² house is located on a small plot in IJburg; a recently developed suburb of the city of Amsterdam. The house is designed as a vertical garden giving space to flora and fauna to grow in a densly urbanised area. Closed private spaces contrast with open collective spaces, that seem to have been ‘carved out’ from the solid volume as a continous transparent void. In this way the interior space is visually and physically connected to the street, the garden and roof terraces. Outdoor and indoor spaces become one and natural daylight flows into the interior.

The landscaped courtyard sits atop the parking garage, creating a green core. To block noise pollution, the facade facing the ring road is predominantly closed. By contrast, the opposite side has been opened up as much as possible with large frontages and balconies.

Facade, Plants and Electrical Systems

The façade contains specific brick detailing inspired by techniques from the famous Amsterdam school style from the 1920’s, which had become redundant in the 2nd half of the 20th century. By intensive cooperation with brick and mortar suppliers, masonry consultants and brick layers, the architect managed to introduce these traditional texture effects in contemporary building methods. Because brickwork lasts long, is free of maintainance and can be recycled it is an interesting sustainable building material. The ornamental masonry is not only a decorative enhancement of the sculptural character of the design, but also functions as an underlayement for different sorts of climbingplants to grow up the facade, giving birth to the idea of a vertical garden, which was enhanced by integrating flowerpots on several levels in the facade. Hedra, Kiwi’s, grapes, apples and roses will over time overgrow the house and create a ‘natural curtain’ around the living spaces and terraces, providing natural shading and privacy. Altough the living area is situated on the first floor, the inhabitants will experience their garden as an integral part of their livingspace, uniting nature and culture in a unique way.

The green facade of the house is a ‘living facade’, changing the image of the building over time and giving space to birds and insects, creating a new urban ecosystem.The house uses large windows to capture sunlight to heat up the collective spaces in winter, and uses the ‘natural curtain’ to create shading in summer. Moreover, the house features a heating earth-pump, solarpanels on the top roof and a balanced mechanical system using a heat recovery unit combined with natural ventilation in each space. This house shows that comfort, beauty and sustainability can strengthen each other, promoting ecoeffectivity more than eco-efficiency. Because of this, the house received a special subsidy given to sustainable buildings in the Netherlands and was nominated for the Dutch Facade Design Award 2008.


Extra Info

Interior design: Made up interior works in collaboration with Marc Koehler
Interior construction: Made up interiorworks and clients by do-it-yourself work
Advisers: KKB Heemskerk, Strackee
Design team: Kasia Heijerman, Dick Kleijn, Jurrian Knijtijzer, Wouter Hendrikson, Dennis de Haan (Bricx), Jack van den Hove (Maxit), Saxon-LearDuckworth
Type of construction: masonry walls and steel structure
Materials: black brick / black steel columns / prefab concrete floor elements, grey / ALCOA aluminium wind profiles, blanc