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Villa of visual concrete, Waalre

Structural design for an extraordinary villa

Located among sloping sand dunes, the white rectangular shape of this villa contrasts strongly with its green natural surroundings. Arup designed the structure of this unique home by architect Russell Jones for a private client in the Netherlands.

With the dunes and vegetation determining the villa's position, large spans and two cantilevering sleeping rooms give it a striking appearance. The concrete skeleton of connected walls and floors guarantees the stability of the building, while the use of timber, soft-coloured concrete, natural stone and glass give the villa an air of peace and quiet.

Visually stunning, crack-free concrete

The white 'visual concrete' of the outer façade has the texture of rough timber. By trying several compositions of concrete and formwork we found a combination that would achieve the desired appearance, with white cement and titanium dioxide giving the concrete a light colour.

This type of concrete produces a very clean appearance that doesn't need finishing, but can't be easily repaired. To prevent cracking and limit dilation, we detailed the façade so it can move freely from the main structure when temperature conditions change. On the ground floor, the façade is mounted on a layer of film that enables it to slide. On the first floor, the façade is hung from the roof rim.

Extra reinforcement in the structural walls limits the width of cracks that do occur in the visual concrete.

Shrink sleeves in the walls and façade enable potential cracks to appear at visually acceptable places, such as on the seams of the formwork boards. They also help to make the basement and the belowground swimming pool waterproof.

The villa also houses a fitness room belowground, while the two floors above ground level accomodate a spacious living room, a kitchen and several bedrooms. A drive-through under the natural sand dune provides access to the street.

The high esthetic standards of this villa were achieved through close cooperation between the client, Russell Jones, Arup, the contractor and the concrete specialist.