Location: Gulpen, The Netherlands
Year: 2018 – 2021
Area: 14.460 m2
Team: Remko Remijnse, Agnese Argenti, Emanuele Saracino, Paula Geoghie, Nestor Ramos Martin, Pelle Rademakers, Elena Ciucarelli
Engineering: Platform Allround
Landscape: Snoek Puur Groen
Interior: RH Interieurs
Contractor: Barli & Mooduul
In september 2021 Gulpen recreational park opens its doors for the first time, marking a new standard for recreational parks. The park is located in the Southern Limburg region which is known, among other things, for the hilly landscape, the local stone, the breweries and, in general, for the local culture and traditions, closer to Belgium and northern France compared with the rest of the Netherlands. All these distinctive characteristics have been integrated in the design of the park, from the point of view of both architecture, landscape design and interior. The Gulpen recreational park can be mainly divided in two parts: the eastern part and western part. The eastern part hosts the main entrance, with main building, parking and a secluded forest-like environment with lodges scattered in the woods. The western part is entirely on the open and green slope and hosts two kind of accommodations, some carved into the hill and some on the top of the hill as watchtowers. The principle behind this differentiation is that like this you can experience the park in completely different ways since the experience drastically changes if you move from one area to the other. You can relax in the shadow among the trees in a forest, you can enjoy the countryside life, you can have dinner on the restaurant terrace with a panoramic view across the Gulpen valley or you can have the one time in life chance to stay in a house inside the hill with all comforts. The available accomodations support this diversity as well. There are 185 accommodations in the park, divided in 14 types, all cladded with wooden planks or local stone and covered with green roofs, to mix well with the context, all transportable in one or more prefab modules, but all very different between each other in exterior and interior appearance and in the relation with the context:
– Valley house: the design and positioning is focused on giving the best views towards the valley, thanks to a big glass facade and a sunny terrace in the corner. On the northern side of the park, standing on a platform on poles looking towards the countryside, there is another group of Valley houses that have an unobstructed view of the lush countryside. They are placed on a slope or in parallel, so that they don’t obstruct each other the view. There are also three variants of this cabin for disabled people.
– Hill house: standing on a slope, this cabins is designed as a two floors cabin with a big living room at the ground floor looking towards the inner part of forest in the middle of the park and bedrooms at the first floor looking at the forest and towards the valley. The first floor hovers over the ground floor to emphasize the view towards the valley.
– Square house: the volumes of these cabins are meant to give variety to the main road of the park, since most of them are placed along it. They all have two facings, with the main glass facade towards the countryside or towards the inner part of the park, which grants nice view and privacy and a more abstract and closed façade towards the main road, giving them a sculpture like appearance. In some parts of the facade the volumes become taller. Combined with skylights these taller volumes give an extra spatial dimension to the interior. Inside all functions like toilet, shower and technical rooms are placed in a wooden central ‘utility box’ so that the rest of the space can flow freely around this box providing a different view on the landscape from each corner.
– Round house: this design is oriented towards groups of friends or big families. The round shape lets the landscape flow freely around the cabin. From each room there is a unique visual contact with the outside. The living room covers half of the cabin and has a large curved panoramic window that faces the big open public field and playground in the park. Kids can play freely outside while parents remain in visual contact with them from inside the cabin. In the inner part of the living room you can find a kitchen with a private view through a big skylight so you can cook while watching the stars in the sky.
– Forest house: the design of this cabin is based on the concept of living in a tree house. As long as you go up you always enjoy different points of view between the trees. To achieve the tree-house feeling the cabin is on 3 stacked, but shifted floors with many small cantilevered volumes that make this cabin, together with the dark wood facade, fit perfectly in the shaded core of the forest. The ground floor is used for livingroom, with 2 separated areas for seating and dining, bedrooms and services are on first and second floor. On the first floor there is also access to a big elevated terrace surrounded by the foliage of the trees.
– Tower house: this cabin is designed to make you feel like the king of the hill. Standing at the highest point of the park they have views across the Gulpen valley that seem to go on forever. From a distance the towers look like abstract volumes that look like ancient watchtowers. This will be emphasized over time when the wood will turn grey, giving the cabin a more stone like appearance. Particularly remarkable is the view from the big window of the second floor bedroom that frames the landscape like a picture. The 3 floors are stacked with the staircase core in the back side of the cabin, livingroom at the ground floor and bedrooms with open bathrooms upstairs. The concept of a tower is possible only by having slender proportions in the verticality so, the footprint of the cabin is just 22 m2 for 8 m of height. The interior space is very compact, so white wooden planks were used in the interior to achieve the sensation of staying in a bigger space.
– Landscape houses: the concept for this design is not limited to the single architectural object, but is based on their aggregation. In order to have, as final result, a grassy hill with cuts in its surface that have a minimum impact on the landscape from close and far distance, the cabins are fully embedded in the hill and are covered with grassy meadows where local sheeps will have a new home. The façade is covered with a local stone giving the site an appearance of stone walls that randomly cross the green terraces. Cuts in this stone wall create stunning views to the valley from all rooms of the cabin. The cabins are made from prefab polished concrete elements. On the inside the concrete remains visible and thus creating a cave like experience inside the green hill.