Living in a meadow

‘The scent of green grass lingers around the house. We eat outside. Walking on bare feet, we walk in and out carrying bowls of food, a jug of water and a good bottle of wine. A fire is lit to chase away the evening chills.’

The idea of using meadowland for a residential development is not new. We have also seen a demand arise for other kinds of residential developments than the overregulated VINEX neighbourhoods with their concrete-tiled sidewalks and brick-paved streets. A desire for more freedom, also more nature, but especially the desire to live as if on holiday. The question arises whether it is possible to retain the atmosphere of the meadows while at the same time developing marketable housing conditions. The design created by Bureau B+B and buroKetting investigates how optimally interweaving meadow and habitation can lead to a renewed type of dwelling: the meadow dwelling.

Meadow living
The feeling of being on holiday for the residents is generated by making the actual presence of the meadow clearly felt. Some want to experience that feeling alone, others together like at a campsite. Two parcelling plans represent these two extremes.

‘I ride through the pollard willows and ditches along the small country road into my neighbourhood. I meet no one along the way. Common skullcaps, cuckoo flowers, yellow lyses, hemp-agrimonies and cat’s tails sway in the wind and rustle in my ears as I cross the small bridge to my home. At the back, I look out over the marshy land from my patio. Lychnises, march marigolds and leopard marsh orchids stand among the reeds waving in the wind. Lying in my hammock, enjoying the chirping coming from the willows and alders, I remain invisible to my neighbour behind the branch- embankments, the hawthorn blackthorn, dogwood and elderberry shrubs. I am under the illusion that I am all alone, at the edge of this marshy landscape.’

You, as an individual, want as little contact with your neighbours as possible. You want the feeling that you alone see the broad view of the meadows and can enjoy peace and quiet in your hectic life; this parcelling plan, which is extremely suitable for swampy soil , is based on these ideas.

‘I ride past the neighbourhood orchard to my home. It’s busy in the orchard. The trees are hanging full of delicious ripe apples and everyone there is busy collected them. I ride into our large garden and park my car in the gravel place under an apple tree. All the houses stand close together, some almost lean against each other. It’s cosy here, I can see that my grandmother is at home because the lights are on. I’ll go for a chat. Queen Anne’s lace, dandelions, daisies and wild Chervil grow in the grass as I walk past the neighbourhood campfire to her back door. Will she be busy preparing her famous apple butter?

Sitting together around the campfire, living here on the holiday parcel is like being on holiday. On breakwaters, these very large parcels on which several houses may be built are suitable for a collective of private clients, or a group of friends or one whole family.

Living meadow-like
With its sloping roof, the house is an archetype of a home, an dwelling icon. It also refers to an A-frame house, a tent, a caravan or a hut. It is energy- efficient, and its compact, clear shape, whose walls and roof form a unit, can be easily prefabricated.
A number of elements are integral to the simple main form. The large glass front, covered terrace and pit for an outdoor fire are a continuation of the outdoor living one enjoys on holiday.

The Nesting jacket
In order to make the dwelling energy efficient, a large section of the house is well sealed, surrounded by a warm down jacket, and has a fantastic triple-glazed window looking out on the most beautiful view of nature. The ‘jacket’ is made from a wooden structure and provided with thick cover of sheep’s wool isolation as its lining. Maike van Stiphout helped further develop the façade into a ‘nesting jacket’, a façade integrated with the possible nesting compartments. This nesting-jacket makes it possible to live with house sparrows, blue tits, or a pretty little owl. Hedgehogs can also find overnight accommodation, and naturally the rabbit and chickens can live under the roof as well.

The nesting jacket has a outer layer made of sheet material such as wood, composite or steel. Large round holes of different sizes are cut out of the sheet and covered with a rubber plug. The plug can be exchanged for a nesting compartment, also made from rubber, that is partially pressed into the wool lining. The real enthusiast can order nesting compartments with pockets. The made -to-measure pockets are intended for animals that need more space than the thickness of the jacket can provide. The pockets are designed at the same time as the timbre frame and made specifically for certain animals. They can eventually be combined with kitchen units or a box bed.

  • Location: Blokland, Montfoort, Netherlands
  • research: 2011
  • Partners: Buro Ketting

Alleen - Alone

Samen - Together