In among the trees of an old arboretum, at the edge of the Dutch National Park the Utrechtse Heuvelrug, stands a new architectural work: Villa A by architect Teske van Royen. In 2016, the idea took hold to commission glasswork and textile art for the villa-to-be. Artist Ingeborg Meulendijks was selected and a rich collaboration between artist and architect ensued. Construction was completed in 2019.
The textile and glass designs both share a motif inspired by the tree as a symbol of life. This ties in with the villa’s forested location, but also with the commissioning party’s profession.
The works forge a close connection with the architectural object designed for this site, with its vistas of landmark trees and the changing light, as well as with the scale and substance of individual rooms. The artwork softens the architecture and imparts meaning. The woven wall panels enhance the interior acoustics, while the textured glass windows filter the outside light and foster a sense of natural intimacy indoors.
Glass: An Arboreous Imprint
Each window is made up of different relief elements. Framed by a strong line in a suggestion of panes, the composition of these elements is based on four fixed proportions and the particular window’s dimensions. The glass reliefs are impressions of select samples of wood grain, transformed into glass during the production process. Each imprint shows a unique growth signature – the fingerprint of a tree.
The reliefs in the glass intensify changes in natural light and reflect the wooded surroundings, creating a shifting interplay between indoors and out.
In spaces one moves through, like the hallway, the vertical lines in the glass are emphasized; in living spaces, the horizontal.The panes total 23 m2 of clear textured glass, divided over 32 windows.
Textile: A Softer Edge
Fourteen woven panels clothe two walls in the villa’s hall, which looks out on a heritage tree, an imposing specimen from the former arboretum. The pattern woven into the textile is based on the tree motif, but in the sense of an abstracted design, not a realistic rendering.
For each wall panel, a charcoal drawing was built up using horizontal strokes. Charcoal was selected for its organic, uneven line. Charcoal also represents a direct link with tree structures, as charcoal itself is a charred fragment of wood. The lines in the drawing are oriented horizontally to counter the vertical lines of the two monumental walls of windows in the hall.
The charcoal drawings were transformed into digital weaving files for a computer-controlled jacquard loom. The resulting wall panels exhibit the interplay between this mechanical repetition of the warp and the weft, and the manual repetition of hand-drawn lines.
In the choice of threads, the same subtle tension is present between the technological – in the lustrous viscose and lurex threads – and the biological – in the matte sheep’s wool and goat’s wool yarn. The design intent is a textile in which system and chance reinforce one another, like the way wood grain reflects the uncontrolled yet repetitive growth pattern of a tree.
The sound-absorbing textile comprises 29 m2 of jacquard-woven wall coverings, divided over 14 panels.
Glasswork (23 m2) and textile art (29 m2)
Art commission for Villa A