News Home & Design Architect's Prefabricated Home Uses Fungi to Protect Its Exterior This small family uses some innovative techniques and tools. By Kimberley Mok Kimberley Mok Twitter Writer McGill University Cornell University Kimberley Mok is a former architect who has been covering architecture and the arts for Treehugger since 2007. Learn about our editorial process Published May 20, 2022 02:00PM EDT Fact checked by Katherine Martinko Fact checked by Katherine Martinko Twitter University of Toronto Katherine Martinko is an expert in sustainable living. She holds a degree in English Literature and History from the University of Toronto. Learn about our fact checking process Share Twitter Pinterest Email Joris Verhoeven Architectuur News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive Every now and then, here on Treehugger, we cover interesting specimens of architecture that architects build as residences for themselves and their families. Some might be low-carbon homes that are carved out of heritage-status structures, while others might be modern live-work spaces converted out historic microapartments, or even low-cost affairs built out of repurposed vehicles like this architecture student's bus home. Whatever they may be, it's always fascinating to see how such projects are conceived, designed, and built. For Tilburg, Netherlands-based architect Joris Verhoeven of Joris Verhoeven Architectuur, constructing a self-sufficient home for himself and his family meant experimenting with some intriguing building techniques and products, while also considering how the home would fit into its natural surroundings. Joris Verhoeven Architectuur Verhoeven's home, dubbed the Four Seasons House, is located in the Drijflanen nature reserve and stands on a site where local sheep—part of the region's wool production industry—can often be seen grazing. As Verhoeven explains, the naturally insulated home is designed to allow him and his family to "experience the Dutch seasons intensely." That's because the "Dutch seasons are known for their versatility: fresh springs, warm summers, very wet autumns, and now and then, an extreme winter." Joris Verhoeven Architectuur The architect goes on to explain that the 753-square-foot (70 square meters) home's bucolic setting has been purposely kept that way, with the deliberate use of color, and lack of barriers to keep nature out: "The building is designed to be a part of nature. With its rough black facades, it hardly stands out next to the surrounding tree trunks. Because the garden is not designed as such, but has been given to nature, the house becomes part of its surroundings. This seems very logical, but it's a peculiar choice in a country where everyone puts a fence around their garden." The boxy, wood-clad exterior of the house is strategically punctuated with windows that look out in specific directions, creating carefully framed views out onto the landscape. The natural appearance of the wooden planks is emphasized by their different widths, which are highlighted as the sun's light shifts throughout the day. On the roof, sits solar and thermal panels which provide electricity to the home. Joris Verhoeven Architectuur Interestingly, the blackened wood exterior is not done with the protective shou sugi ban method of deliberately fire-charring wood that is so popular nowadays; it's actually a fungus-infused staining product that protects and tints the wood. No word on what the product actually is, but it looks like it could be this one, and what Verhoeven says seems to suggest it may be that very product: "The wooden facade has been treated with a fungus that has been specially cultivated in this color to protect the sidings in a natural way. In case of damage to the coating, the growing fungal layer will self-repair. When the fungus is fading, it means it's hungry. Then you'll have to feed it with linseed oil for new wood protection and to become matte black again." Joris Verhoeven Architectuur The interior of the home is minimalist and incorporates various spaces that one might find in any family home, such as a living room, kitchen, bedrooms, bathroom, closets, and a home office. Joris Verhoeven Architectuur The aesthetic is clean and modern, thanks to a pared-back material and color palette that features the use of black cabinetry, light-colored woods, and, of course, lots of large windows. Joris Verhoeven Architectuur The kitchen sink sits in front of a window, as the light enters to illuminate the black-tinted textured countertop and cabinets. Joris Verhoeven Architectuur But what might be most important lies hidden behind the walls. That's because Verhoeven developed a system of prefabricated wood "cassettes" that are then filled with flax insulation, while the interior-facing side of these structural wooden "cassettes" use birch plywood, imparting that minimalistic look to the inside. Joris Verhoeven Architectuur As Verhoeven points out, this approach saved time and money: "This 'pure' way of building, where the structural work is also the finishing, comes with great benefits when it comes to construction duration and cost. After pouring the foundation floor, the house has been erected in just three days." Joris Verhoeven Architectuur Indeed, as this project deftly shows, thinking out of the box when it comes to building one's own home doesn't have to mean sacrificing any of the things we might associate with a typical home, nor long-term sustainability. To see more, visit Joris Verhoeven Architectuur. View Article Sources Press kit sent to Treehugger "Four Seasons House / Joris Verhoeven Architectuur." ArchDaily.