Vertzone house – Birth of an idea

Today, I would like to tell you a story, it is rather personal story and it is also an architectural story. Story about imaginary thing, story about a building which is not meant to be built, about a building which serves us as a tool to learn. Our second semester project.

This is the first post from a new series of posts about our semester project (note to myself – no more new series!)

Second semester, we already kind of knew what to expect, and we were thrown right into it. No time to waste, we started with the big project on day one. The groups were already known (the teachers shared them before the semester started) so we could just nod at our new colleagues, put together our satellite office and dive into the brief.

The brief:

Brief is a letter, which discribes the desires of the client, programming, materials, style and any other things client might request. This is our brief.

Client: Young family – John (41, working in insurance) , Jane (40, banker), Oliver (13, plays guitar, loves LEGO*) and Mia (9, gymnast and singer)

Project: They want a new, modern, Scandinavian style house built on nr. 95 or 97 Sundgaardsvej,Horsens. They want to use traditional materials such as brickwork, concrete and wood. They would also like a balcony with a view over the nearby lake. The house should also include a basement.

*who does not love LEGO?

The process:

There were more things but I want you to actually read my blog and not to get bored, so I will try to write about something more interesting.

We went to the sites to choose the right one. We have already been to this area, our first semester project site was nearby. We knew the area. Even though, when we arrived that windy afternoon in february, we fell in love with the site. Site nr. 95 was the right one. Close to the lake, good positioning and fairly large. Only asset was the slope, the height difference between south and north boundary line is little more than 4 meters. Did I just say asset? How is that old saying? One man´s asset is another man´s opportunity. Close enough.


As soon as we got back to our office (okay that is exaggerated, in reality our workspace is just 4 desks and a small conference table, but I still love it) we started to brainstorm the ideas. And what come out of this was, at least in my eyes, wonderful idea. According to the regulations, you obviously cannot just place habitable areas (e.g. children bedroom) in the basement, someone could complain, start crying, or wave with their tiny fists. That is what regulations are for. BUT…in the regulations, there is also stated (in small letters) that the room with a wall sticking out from the ground more than 1200 mm is considered habitable. And when you recall the slope our site had, it just clicked together. The rules showed us the right way.idea

This is just ugly quick sketch of the idea and I made it only for this post because I trashed the original one. But the original looked very similar, it was not meant to be published, its only purpose was to quickly show the idea. Idea was all we needed. We did not need the sketch anymore.

The idea:

We are going to use the slope to essentially create three floor house. Basement, accesible from the level of lower garden for childrens, middle floor as a main living space and first floor for the parents.

Our humble office just rocks!

That is also how the house got its name – Vertical zoning, Vertzone for short. It is not the best idea an idea which clearly describes the concept behind the house. Actually, that is also an important architecture lesson, even if it sounds silly, always name it, even “Vertzone house” sounds tiny bit better than “Sundgaardsvej 95”

The end of this phase also meant that each of us had to prepare its own interpretation of the given problem. So as soon as we started, our paths were once again separated, but that´s story for another day.





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