A barn. A windmill. A courtyard. These are the building blocks of a traditional Dutch homestead – and the inspiration for Mecanoo‘s new Villa Vught. Organized around a central courtyard just outside the city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the trio of buildings forms an elegant ensemble and offers a distinctly contemporary take on local agricultural vernacular.
The tallest volume – which evokes the base of a windmill – houses the bedrooms and a playroom. Its rooftop terrace opens out to panoramic views of the landscape. Accented by subtly extruded punched windows and an angled façade, the two-storey building is framed by a pair of volumes resembling elongated barns.
Adjacent to the bedrooms, one of these “barns” is furnished as a living room, kitchen and dining space, with a veranda at the end. While they read as distinct volumes, the two structures are joined by a short corridor, which is cleverly hidden from view by an elevated grass mound. Maintaining a sense of visual separation between the two, the landscaping also introduces an eye-catching bit of elevation to the flat terrain.
On the other side of the courtyard, the project’s third volume is a fully separate building that can function as an extension of the family home or host a distinct program. A flexible mixed-use space, the room is fitted out with a large kitchen equipped to host cooking classes for up to 20 people, as well as workplace functions and company team-building exercises.
All three volumes are carefully contoured to preserve open views of the landscape, while creating an intimate central courtyard that feels simultaneously open and protected. Drawing on familiar typologies, the site plan is complemented by a material palette equally rooted in Dutch farmhouse vernacular.
A dark bronze tone defines the anodized aluminum cladding used across all three volumes. It fosters a sense of aesthetic unity – and a visual link to the corrugated iron roofs that accent the region’s farmhouses. A slightly lighter tone frames the aluminum windows, drawing the eye to the playfully irregular rhythm of fenestration across the home’s bedrooms.
Built with an efficient – and sustainably sourced – cross-laminated timber structure, Villa Vught also features wood surfaces throughout the interiors. European silver fir frames the rooms with a smooth, warm texture that complements the rustic farmhouse ambiance. Heated and cooled with electric heat pumps, the villa is designed to minimize energy use and carbon costs.
In the Dutch countryside, Mecanoo’s design uses traditional reference points as a springboard to create an elegant new typology. In a country of barns, courtyards, and windmills, there’s only one Villa Vught.
Inspired by the region’s agricultural vernacular, the mixed-use villa stakes out a unique presence in the countryside.