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Dune House Terschelling

A home that fits in with the dune landscape on Terschelling island in The Netherlands. designed by Marc Koehler Architects, “The design is based on a walk through the dune landscape, where you alternately encounter closed and open spaces at different levels.” He has translated that experience into a large open space, divided into a dozen split levels that spiral around the central fireplace. The roof and façade have been given the same wooden look that matches the color of the dunes. “Dune House is a wooden diamond”.

Dune-House-Terschelling-By-Marc-Koehler-architects-03-Filip-Dujardin-759x517 Dune House Terschelling / Marc Koehler architects

© Filip Dujardin

The dune house Koehler built for two brothers and their families is an attempt to break with this phenomenon. ‘I wanted to create a building grafted on the topography of the island, rather than on a specific typology,’ says Koehler. The location amid the dunes, where wild cranberries grow, birds nest and the Milky Way comes out at night is truly unique: a place you want to experience to the max. But the clients also wanted the design to be as nature-friendly as possible, and it is this tension that is at the heart of the design.

Dune-House-Terschelling-By-Marc-Koehler-architects-04-Filip-Dujardin-759x517 Dune House Terschelling / Marc Koehler architects

© Filip Dujardin

The Dune House, half-sunk into the dunes on the northern coast of the island of Terschelling, rises over the landscape and looks over the dunes providing a breath-taking view of the North Sea.

The forces of nature prevalent in the environment – the sea, the sunlight and the local wind patterns – determine the design in such a way as if they themselves had sculpted the house. It is above all a very contextual design and for this reason every material was chosen after close examination of the colors and textures found in the environment.

Dune-House-Terschelling-By-Marc-Koehler-architects-07-Filip-Dujardin-800x1200 Dune House Terschelling / Marc Koehler architects

© Filip Dujardin

This results in a peculiar architectonic object, a wooden diamond that is experienced very differently from each of its sides, is fully integrated in the landscape and yet also makes a strong but subtle connection between its interior and its immediate surroundings.

The loft-like house recreates the experience of having a walk on the dunes in its interior as a spiraling “promenade architecturale” around its core as one continuous path from platform to platform, each just a few steps higher than the next, that generates very interesting spatial and visual relations in between each of the rooms but also towards the landscape, as each opening in the house has been shaped, sized and positioned in a specific way, always related to the functions associated to each space.

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© Filip Dujardin

Through intensive dialogue between the architect and the clients, a tailor-made design of the house that would fulfill all their wishes was made possible. A holistic approach to design in which every detail was meticulously thought through without ever losing sight of the main ideas behind the project, a design that integrates landscape, architecture and interior design into one.

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© Filip Dujardin

This respect towards the environment also translated in the choice for a construction method with the use of modular prefabricated wooden panels, previously designed using BIM software, that allowed to drastically reduce the building time. The intensive use of wood, the implementation of passive methods to avoid unwanted heat gains and losses combined with the self-generation of energy through solar panels and a biomass run fireplace, make this a very environmentally friendly design with a minimal ecological footprint.

Dune-House-Terschelling-By-Marc-Koehler-architects-14-Filip-Dujardin-759x517 Dune House Terschelling / Marc Koehler architects

© Filip Dujardin

“Dune House on Terschelling is in every way a unique project. The architect and client have challenged both themselves and the other building to come to a high quality design. The windows are large, irregularly shaped and at the same time really solid: needed in a salty and windy surrounding. The colours of the materials in the facade carefully matched. In the interior daylighting plays an important role in the routing and use of the various spaces.” – Reynaers Projectprijs Awards/comment

Dune-House-Terschelling-By-Marc-Koehler-architects-16-Filip-Dujardin-759x506 Dune House Terschelling / Marc Koehler architects

© Filip Dujardin

Marc Koehler architects:

The concept of the house is inspired by the dune landscape of one of the northern Dutch islands in which the house is embedded. The programmatic configuration is derived from the experience of walking through the dunes; it exposes a sequence of view points on the dune landscape: from submerged and intimate viewpoints to elevated and stretched out views over the sea.

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© Filip Dujardin

The different spaces of the house are connected to each other in a continues way by a spiral route. Split-level floors – functioning as large steps – wind along the central core (used as technical space, fireplace and bookcase) of the building. This spiraling route connects the most intimate underground private spaces (bedrooms) with the living, dining and relax spaces on the upper levels. Every level has its own unique connection with the surrounding landscape.

Dune-House-Terschelling-By-Marc-Koehler-architects-23-Marc-Koehler-architects-750x1000 Dune House Terschelling / Marc Koehler architects

© Marc Koehler architects

The contemporary loft-life open interior space is enclosed by a traditional facade and roof structure, to meet the requirements set by the local government. The silhouette of the house associates both to local architecture pitched and turtle roof types of neighbouring houses and the topography of the natural landscape. The house is almost entirely built out of innovative ecological materials and eco-friendly installations and is highly energy efficient. The use of a unique wooden cross-laminated structure, a unique wooden roofing system and the central heating system based on bio-fuel, reduce the CO2 footprint to a minimum.

Dune-House-Terschelling-By-Marc-Koehler-architects-31-Filip-Dujardin-759x569 Dune House Terschelling / Marc Koehler architects

© Filip Dujardin

Project Data:

Project name: Dune House Terschelling
Location: West aan Zee 141, 8881 HB West-Terschelling, Netherlands
Coordinates: 53.400633, 5.261427

  • Type By Characteristic: Green & Sustainable House
  • Type By Site: Beach House, Island House
  • Type By Size: Small House – (51 sqm – 200 sqm)
  • Type By Materials: Wooden House

Project Area: 180 sqm
Status: Built
Completion Year: 2014


  • 2014 – Reynaers Projectprijs Awards – Winner

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: Private
Architects: Marc Koehler architects – Keizersgracht 126, 1015CW Amsterdam, Netherlands
Interior designer: Marc Koehler Architects
Project Architect: Carlos Moreira
Execution Manager: Thomas Welink, Annemarie Swemmer
Design team: Kasia Heijerman, Miriam Tocino, Anna Szcsurek and Jakub Zoha
Technical description and execution: AchterboschZantman architecten
Builder: P.A. Wiersma Aannemingsmaatschappij BV
Interior builder: Koen Vieugel
Installations: Bakker Installatietechniek
Glazing Construction: Huijberts Gevelbouw
Stylist photoshoot: Friday Next
Text Description: © Courtesy of Marc Koehler architects, Reynaers Projectprijs Awards
Images: © Marc Koehler architects, Filip Dujardin


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