Zierikzee is a small Dutch city located next to the ‘Oosterschelde’ lake. The town is full of historical details that recall the glory days of this fishermen city. The historical harbor is located a few minutes away from the city center, and it is surrounded by monumental buildings which show similarities with the canal zone of Amsterdam. It is here that a small white brick building from the 18th century was left empty for several years due to its moderate condition and complicated floor-plan, long and narrow.
Back to its construction time, taxes were raised based on the width of a building, instead of its surface. The ultimate cheap house was then one with a width of just about 3 meters. Now the question arises how an historical shell with a lack of daylight and a floor-plan that measures roughly 20 by 3 meters can be transformed into a modern house.
Developing a concept for this building started by identifying the different construction phases of the building. The oldest part of the building will be treated differently from the younger extension. By introducing a T-shaped staircase between the different floors of the split-level building an efficient routing can be created. The interior of the building does not have any original historical artifacts left and has been transformed in the seventies. In this proposal the oldest part of the building has been designed to be as open and flexible as possible. This flexible floor-plan fits the zoning and development plans of the building. The ground-floor will be used as a studio which can later function as an office or retail space. The first floor becomes the living room with a great view on the historical harbor. The younger part of the building will be divided in rooms and contains two roof lights to increase daylight and to improve natural ventilation.
The Fundamental idea behind the concept is to see the length of the building as an interesting design possibility, instead of seeing the narrowness of the floor-plan as a potential problem. In which house do you have the possibility to make a kitchen of over 5 meters, a staircase of over 7 meters or a line of sight through the building of almost 20 meters?
After stripping the building it turned out that the monument had been through many changes since its foundation. Functional evolution and many repairs have left their marks on its walls. The purpose of this last intervention has been to clarify the difference between the historical shell and the contemporary elements. The material that survived will be preserved without possibly being confused with the new material. The missing bits and pieces are not replaced by a false interpretation of what once might have been there, but have been designed as a contemporary interior in contrast with its historical envelope. The interior fits the needs and standards of the 21st century to ensure that the building will be saved from vacancy for a significant amount of time.
The interior of the building will be materialized in natural oak and white plaster with black steel components. The material palette reinforces the contrast between the historical envelope and the new interior. The sober, clean and contemporary atmosphere of the interior matches the wishes of the new residents. The detailing will be rigid and includes recessed plinths, aligned window frames and sky only roof lights.