RVDV architecture | Low budget villa Borgmeren

Low budget villa Borgmeren

House in Harkstede (Groningen)




A family living in Amsterdam decided to exchange the busy city streets of the capital for the open spaces and tranquillity of the north of the Netherlands. They found a spacious plot of land (more than 1100 m2) in Harkstede, a village close to the city of Groningen. They asked RVDV architectuur to design a detached house at this location.

The house had to accommodate both the family and the mother’s pedicure salon. The salon had to be completely separated from the living spaces and have its own entrance in order to preserve the family’s privacy in their home. In addition, while the building had to be generously dimensioned, the total cost (land purchase, construction and advisory costs) had to be kept below the proceeds from the sale of the family’s Amsterdam home. This meant that an amount of approximately €300,000 (excluding VAT) was available to cover the cost of construction. RVDV’s challenge was to design a spacious detached villa within this budget.

RVDV designed a U-shaped house with the pedicure salon in the left-hand wing. You walk to the entrance of the home via an open courtyard that faces onto the surrounding public land. The pedicure salon has its own entrance on the outside of the “U”. One side of the living room looks onto the open courtyard and the other side borders the garden at the back of the house. It is a double-height space with a transverse walkway connecting the upper floors of the left-hand and right-hand wings where the bedrooms and study areas are situated. The house has an indoor garage. This is located in the right-hand ‘leg’ of the “U” with a connecting door to the entrance hall.

The entire house is made of wood. All the exterior and interior walls, the floors and the roof feature modular wooden frame construction. These modular elements are produced in the workshop and then assembled at the construction site in a matter of days. RVDV based the dimensions of the house on the size of the wooden panels used for the modular wooden frames in order to keep sawing losses to a minimum. The modular wooden frame elements are filled with 18 cm of glass wool insulation. As a result, the house is highly energy-efficient. An additional advantage of the modular wooden frame design is that this type of structure is extremely earthquake-resistant – an important consideration as gas extraction in Groningen has resulted in increasingly frequent earthquakes.

Western Red Cedar planks are used to clad the façades. These are pre-impregnated with an accelerant that both speeds up the natural change in colour of the wood due to weathering and has the added advantage keeping the colour uniform. A 1 cm gap between the planks ensures good ventilation to allow unobstructed moisture migration via the modular wooden frame elements.

Thanks to the efficient construction method and the use of simple finishes and materials, the complete villa, which has a gross floor surface area of 316 m2, was completed for the relatively modest sum of €295,137. This equates to an amount of €934 per m2. This amount even includes an extremely energy-efficient and sustainable heat pump system, which uses geothermal energy to heat the home.



Location: Jonker Egbert Clantsingel 43 Harkstede (Groningen) Netherlands

Year of design: 2005

Year of construction: 2007-2008

Year of completion: 2008

Building costs: € 295.137 (VAT exclusive)*

Gross floor area: 316 m2

Net floor area: 266 m2

Gross building volume: 1108 m3

Architect: RVDV architecture

Structural Engineer: Ingenieursbureau Boorsma BV

Building systems Engineer: –

Construction firm: Kuiper Blijham BV

Timber frame construction: De Mâr Houtconstructies BV


* excluding: bathroom fittings, kitchen, terrain finishing, garden