All In One
Rineke van Duysen -- Interior Design, 7/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
The Dutch have never been short on outsize aspirations. Witness the globe-spanning trade routes of the 17th century, the monumental presence of Rembrandt van Rijn's The Night Watch, and the brick-size hunk of apple tart that passes for a "little slice" in any café. But a collective predilection for thinking big doesn't come from having lots of space in which to do so. And that's a good thing for i29Office for Spatial Design, which made its name outfitting Lilliputian residences with ingenious kitchens and bathrooms.
The firm's work caught the eye of Christie's senior contemporary-art specialist Jean-Paul Engelen and his wife, Minou, when they returned to the Netherlands after several years in New York. After buying a newly built house in Wassenaar, near the Hague, the couple were looking for an architect to plan the 380-square-foot skylit master suite.
"Their ideas involved sleeping there and having the tub, shower, toilet, and changing area there, too—but not compromising openness or light by dividing the space," i29 principal Jeroen Dellensen says. He and partner Jaspar Jensen immediately got to work sketching out systems for integrating bathing components with a central sleeping "compartment." This, Jensen adds, is typical of the firm's approach: "We synthesize elements, so they don't alter the feeling of the room too drastically."
The architects came up with a freestanding cube, a 10-foot-tall white frame constructed of MDF—which, Jensen says, "takes paint as well as metal but is warmer." One part of the cube is open, housing a king-size bed. Around it hangs white cotton voile drapery, screen-printed with enlarged photographs of apple blossoms that impart softness to the streamlined structure.
Most of the plumbing is housed in the closed part of the cube, behind the head of the bed. Stalls for the toilet and shower both have frosted-glass doors. "We achieved privacy where it was necessary," Dellensen says. Between is the long sink vanity.
This being practical-minded Holland, function is as important as form. Lighting for the shower and toilet is controlled by sensor. In addition, each stall has its own circulation unit. Windows further ventilate the room as a whole.
The shower, toilet, and sink areas are fiberglass coated in resin. "They're entirely waterproof," Dellensen says. Not quite as impermeable are the main room's white-painted pine floor, white ceiling and walls, and wall-mounted flat-panel TV.
The latter comes in particularly handy where the luxuriously sized stand-alone white tub is concerned: It's outside the cube, by the foot of the bed. Thanks to i29's clever intervention, the couple can watch Will & Grace reruns together while he's tucked in for the night and she's having a soak.