ENSCHEDE – Almost obliterated by a fireworks warehouse explosion in 2000, the inner-city neighbourhood of Roombeek in Enschede has since become an architectural testing ground, where the municipality allowed the inhabitants to design and build according to their wishes. This led to an almost predictable mix of Dutch architecture’s who’s-who, along with a slew of pitched-roof, catalogue houses and banal brick boxes. The latest addition – an unusual family home by Project DWG – literally stands out.

‘I wanted to build a distinct object,’ says Michiel de Wit, the architect and proud owner of the house. However, the unusual dwelling is more than just a result of flight of fancy: standing on a corner plot, the slightly skewed black prism hovers above the ground, supported by concrete pilotis – so the house can sport large windows without compromising its inhabitants’ privacy.

The unique character of the building is attested by the many nicknames it has received from the inhabitants of Roombeek: ‘the cartridge’, ‘Pandora’s box’, ‘Pippi Longstocking’s treehouse’ and – in the eyes of a particularly distraught neighbour who was afraid that the value of his own house would plummet if the architects went through with their plan – ‘the black coffin’.

The outside of the house is clad with dark stained wood. Underneath, there is a sheltered parking spot, from which the central staircase can be accessed. The large windows and the open, timber-clad circulation core ensure a bright interior. The living area consists of a double-height space and becomes the heart of the house, allowing visual connections to the kitchen and children’s room above. The stairs finally lead onto a roof terrace, where privacy reigns supreme.

Photos Rene Fokkink and Jeannet Stassen (where indicated)