Poplar Garden House
Groningen, The Netherlands
Onix architect Haiko Meijer has designed this Poplar Garden House for his family. It is situated in the allotment garden park ‘De Tuinwijck’ close to the centre of the city of Groningen. This green oasis between the railway track and the Helperzoom offers the city’s inhabitants an ideal – low budget – opportunity to create the most eccentric gardens. It is an ecological allotment complex which provides a relaxing sojourn for elderly, children, artists, singles and other people.
The gardens measure 200m2 on average and are rented out. As gardening is seen as the main activity on the allotments, it’s merely allowed to build constructions up to 36m2. Sewerage, water and carboy are available. Power supply is only possible with solar panels.
This sunny allotment lies between an irrigation ditch (north side) and a playground (south side). These two different orientations immediately called for the following, equally different, designs of the two outdoor areas on each corresponding side of the house: facing the ditch an introvert and – most of the time – shadowy space near the apple tree, conifer and rhododendron, yet on the other side close to the playground an extravert area with a new – simultaneously constructed – ‘creek garden’. The condition of the soil (boulder clay) was the reason to opt for a creek garden. Water can drain away through the creek into the ditch. Stepping-stones on the south side make it possible to reach a plank bridge alongside the east flank de leading to the north side of the garden house.
The little house has a gabled roof, which is one of the two common types of roof shapes in De Tuinwijck; the other type is a pitched roof. The volume of the house has been shaped in such a way that it encloses its two outdoor areas. It is a garden house as well as a shed, though sculpturally resembling nothing less than a mini villa. The complete house has been constructed using modified poplar wood, of just one timber size. The window sills as well as the foundation are made of these same – one size – planks. The house is never fully finished. The planks can easily be taken out, allowing art to be integrated in the house in future. Not art on the wall, but art in the wall. The house has been designed to comfortably accommodate the three of us. The atmosphere, character is vacation-like, not in the least due to its inhabitant’s preferred focus point: the garden.