bláha architecture + design renovates a traditional courtyard house in the hague
 

bláha architecture + design renovates a traditional courtyard house in the hague

in the archipel area of the hague, bláha architecture + design has injected new life into a traditional ‘hofje’ house to create a new rental home. dating back to the 19th century, this typology of courtyard house emerged behind existing streets to provide the lowest paid people in society with decent housing. by 1895 a quarter of all homes were situated in the city’s 700 courtyards. this charming project, no.42 hofje mallemolen, involves one of the earliest, most characteristic and best-preserved examples of this type of housing.

bláha architecture + design renovates a traditional courtyard house in the hague designboom

the interior has been completely stripped back to create a single open living, dining and kitchen space that opens onto the rear private courtyard garden

all images courtesy of bláha architecture + design

 

 

named after the seventeenth century mill for grinding and polishing armor and weapons that stood on the site until 1800, the hofje mallemolen itself consists of two parallel pedestrian streets of mostly two-story houses with red tiled roofs and white painted façades built partly back-to-back between 1868 and 1869, designed by j. jager and s. van kamp. no.42, along with its neighbours, would have originally been intended to accommodate small-scale artisans, workers and soldiers. small gardens to the front or rear create continuous green soft edges between the rows.

bláha architecture + design renovates a traditional courtyard house in the hague designboom

a cupboard wall runs the length of the building on one side and contains functions such as the hallway, WC, and stair to the first floor and kitchen

 

 

at 57 m2, no. 42 is one of the smallest houses in the hofje, comprising one story and an attic in the mansard roof. ‘when it was acquired in 2017,’ explains architect annemieke bláha ‘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.’ the architect’s idea was to retain the building’s historical appearance on the exterior in line with conservation area guidance but create an updated, hyper modern interior; contrasting old and delightful with new and sharp. 

bláha architecture + design renovates a traditional courtyard house in the hague designboom

the front of the house has been restored, along with its main window, while the inside is reduced to three main surfaces – oak timber, resin floors and white walls

 

 

from the outside very little has changed. the brickwork has been restored, roof repaired and glazing replaced with heritage-approved glass supplied by van ruysdael. step inside, however, and the building has been stripped back to its structure. the chimney breast has been removed to create space and the interior renewed. it has been rewired, walls re-plastered, the floor levelled, insulated, installed with underfloor heating and a new skimmed concrete layer poured on top that offers a smooth rippled-effect finish. the opening to the yard has been enlarged; full-height french doors bring afternoon and evening light into the space.

bláha architecture + design renovates a traditional courtyard house in the hague designboom

upstairs, the bedroom is open to the pitch in the roof and includes a new large window to the rear, the materials continue from downstairs

 

 

the primary move architecturally, though, has been to install an 11m-long, 1m-deep cupboard along the length of the house. closing off the functional spaces and storage, this ensures the main living area is free and flexible. visitors enter the house within this cupboard 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 at the back where the opening in the wall lined with a grey composite material becomes the worktop. the cupboard is at once the entrance hall, downstairs WC, fireplace, kitchen and stairwell. other push-to-open doors hide the television, wardrobe and utility. overall, materials are restrained to white walls, concrete and oak for the cupboard fronts, selected for its warm yet contrasting appearance.

bláha architecture + design renovates a traditional courtyard house in the hague designboom

the cupboard wall upstairs has been rotated by 90 degrees to contain a shower room as well as wardrobe storage

 

 

upstairs, this approach continues. although bláha had originally intended to carry up the cupboard wall, it was not possible due to planning restrictions on changing the position of the dormer window in the rear roof. instead, it has been rotated 90 degrees into the eave of the front wall, closing off an en-suite wet room as well as creating wardrobe space. new skylights have been added to the front roof, while a new bench under the rear dormer in the bedroom creates lounge seating and more storage. the space is light and bright, the ceiling opened to the apex. it continues the white wall and grey floor aesthetic of the downstairs – this time using epoxy resin.

bláha architecture + design renovates a traditional courtyard house in the hague designboom

the shower room is tucked into the eaves of the roof with a new skylight

 

 

back downstairs in the small rear yard, the design again contrasts with the sharp contemporary interior in favour of a cottage-style garden. rough boundary walls give a rustic feel and the beds are planted with wild flowers, linking again with the charming historical feel of the traditional hofje.

bláha architecture + design renovates a traditional courtyard house in the hague designboom

from the front, the house has been restored but is virtually unchanged from the original design

bláha architecture + design renovates a traditional courtyard house in the hague designboom

first floor plan of no.42 hofje mallemolen

bláha architecture + design renovates a traditional courtyard house in the hague designboom

second floor plan

bláha architecture + design renovates a traditional courtyard house in the hague designboom

roof plan

bláha architecture + design renovates a traditional courtyard house in the hague designboom

long and short section

 

 

project info:

 

project name: no.42 hofje mallemolen

location: the hague, netherlands

architect: bláha architecture + design

 

designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

 

edited by: lynne myers | designboom

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