homify 360°: Modernisation of a 15th Century canal house

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There's nothing quite so conducive to learning as an inspiringly gorgeous learning environment. Mirck Architecture, of the Netherlands, have taken this simple fact into account in renovating this 15th Century canal house in Leiden. Now used as an annex for the International Tax Centre in Leiden, the building has found a new lease of life as the site of lectures for postgraduates studying tax-related subjects at Leiden University. 

Devastated by fire, it once seemed that this stunning building might have come to the end of its useful life. But it was only the interior that had been destroyed; the outside of the building remained as perfect as ever. The challenge that Mirck Architecture faced was to renovate the damaged interior and update the building where necessary, while at the same time preserving the historical charm of the building's shell.

As these striking images show, it's a challenge they've more than risen to. Let's take a look at the evidence. 

A new addition

modern Houses by Mirck Architecture
Mirck Architecture

ITC Annex—garden facade

Mirck Architecture

This new addition to the original building features a semi-transparent overlay made of a fine metal mesh. This lends a shadowy and mysterious appearance to the structure, shielding the external staircase (just visible going up from the ground floor to the first) and masking the large amounts of glass that account for large areas of the walls and roof of the building itself. 

The peaked form of the mesh section mimics the traditional silhouette of a simple house, just like one a child might draw. This is a playful feature to include in a risky design such as this one.

In the shadows

modern Houses by Mirck Architecture
Mirck Architecture

ITC Annex—facade detail

Mirck Architecture

A closer look reveals the exact makeup of that shadowy overlay. 

The perfect lighting

Seen in the evening, and from this angle, the sharp geometric shapes of the extension really come into clear focus.  The contrast with the warm yellow glow the the interior lights, meanwhile, adds a whole new dimension to this design.

The way in

 Windows by Mirck Architecture
Mirck Architecture

ITC Annex—kitchen view

Mirck Architecture

Using floor-to-ceiling glass panels all along the entrance to the building more than males up for any light lost to the mesh overlay on some parts of the exterior. 

Lectures filled with light

modern Media room by Mirck Architecture
Mirck Architecture

ITC Annex—lecture hall

Mirck Architecture

No matter what their content or style of delivery might be like, lectures in this wonderful auditorium would be well worth attending. The environment alone provides reason enough. The  pale colour scheme of the walls and floor,and the bright natural light that floods the space, both contribute to the striking contrast that the vibrant red seats provide.

A space to escape

modern Kitchen by Mirck Architecture
Mirck Architecture

ITC Annex—kitchen house

Mirck Architecture

This kitchen area provides a casual atmosphere in which to take a quick break. The pale wood surfaces and white paintwork are very much in keeping with the resolutely modern feel of this interior.

modern Houses by Casas inHAUS

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