Alba’s Play: An Apartment Refurbishment with High Walls and Newly Added Volumes

Albas Play 11

Bought by designers Carvalho & Bernau from the municipality two old classrooms in a former school building, this apartment is a 2018 project located in The Hague, the Netherlands. With 150 m² in size, the refurbishment of Alba’s Play is done by ANA ROCHA Architecture. The high walls are combined with newly added volumes to transform it into a sustainable home.


Albas Play 1

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It is a renovated complex that has 11 apartments and consists of a hybrid combination of buildings from the 1980s and from the beginning of the 20th century. The exterior renovation has been carried out by the municipality. The transformed dwelling with high rooms has to accommodate a play space, living area, and three bedrooms.



Albas Play 4

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Reflected on the high walls of the apartment, the existing daylight power strongly can be felt. A soft character to the apartment space on the street side comes from the incidence of the morning light. A warm atmosphere in the rooms is offered by the evening light while the two classrooms seem to be connected by the daylight line.

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A sightline can be created from this existing light-line, helping to determine the interior morphology. Around this sightline, the different closed functions have been placed like houses around a square. This open square is the family room which is designed by kinked wooden walls and it contains three connected functions: the sitting room at the garden with evening light, the dining room with morning light, and in between, the kitchen.



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The architect has transformed this apartment into a sustainable home. The inside walls, ceiling, and floors are insulated according to fire-resistance, sound, and climate. A ‘box-in-a-box’ system is also used by the architect. The existing concrete ceiling-beams and the old brick-work walls are packed into a plasterboard insulation layer and compact Kingspan. The rough hull of the apartment with its old corridor’s arch is turned white.



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The new volumes are added to intersect the white walls. These volumes are clad with birch plywood. This way, the various interactions between new and old elements can be made more extreme. This material also allows the apartment to have interesting sculptural forms such as the niche at the entrance and the porch with stairs leading to the master bedroom.



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There is a window in each bedroom, looking out at the living area of the apartment. The family can watch each other from their own private rooms through these internal windows. An elevated bed is created to maximize playfulness and spatiality, made from a staircase leads to a ‘hidden’ play space. Situated above the two bathrooms, Alba can see her parents in the kitchen and dining room from this raised mezzanine.

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Through the internal window from the master bedroom, the mezzanine is clearly visible. The guest room and third room has an extra-large internal window. The result is an apartment with the afternoon/evening light that comes from the sitting room and it penetrates into the kitchen. This window also ensures the old symmetric garden facade readability with two side windows and a central door.


Alba’s Play Gallery

Photographer: Christiane Wirth, Den Haag

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Karin Hoover

Karin Hoover

Total posts created: 3008
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci

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