Bespoke oak cupboard wall gives a new lease of life to a tiny traditional backstreet courtyard house or 'hofje' in The Hague
Hofje Mallemolen transforms a typical courtyard house or ‘hofje’ on the verge of ruin into a new designed-to-let home for a private client that was attracted by the building’s charming and historically significant location in the Hofje Mallemolen.
Originally designed by J. Jager and S. van Kamp in 1869, the Hofje Mallemolen is one of the earliest and best-preserved examples of housing for artisans and workers that emerged behind existing streets in the nineteenth century. When the client acquired the property in 2017 it had been unoccupied for some time and was almost derelict. The project’s concept was to retain the building’s external historical appearance in line with conservation regulations, while creating a hyper modern interior, contrasting old and delightful with new and contemporary. Brickwork has been restored, the roof repaired and glazing replaced.
Step inside and the internal walls have disappeared; the opening to the rear garden enlarged. A skimmed ripple-effect finish concrete floor connects the space as one. Comprising one storey and an attic space in the mansard roof, the building’s principle architectural move is an 11m-long, 1m-deep cupboard wall that stretches the length of the house and closes off the functional areas to make the living space free and flexible. Visitors enter the house within this wall, the oak tread stair to the upper floor bedroom wraps around the fireplace behind another door. The utility space is beyond, and the kitchen continues into the addition where an opening becomes the worktop. Upstairs, the cupboard wall continues in the bedroom, rotating 90˚ to become a hidden wardrobe and shower room.
‘The principle architectural move is an 11m-long, 1m-deep cupboard wall that stretches the length of the house’
‘When it was acquired in 2017, the house had been vacant for some time. It was in extremely poor condition. There was a hole in the ceiling with just a ladder for access. The rear doors were boarded up. Rainwater was coming in, the dormer windows were falling apart and the house lacked proper sanitary facilities. We wanted to make it modern and attractive for contemporary living.’
Annemieke Bláha, architect in charge