From the 1960’s on people have fled the city centre looking for more space and luxury in the green surroundings of Brussels. We now feel the immense ecological impact of this daily movement driving in and out the city. Despite a fantastic history of bourgeois houses designed by Horta, Hankar and Cauchie amongst others, full of incredible details and flooded in light, modernist architects and their clients dreamt of individual detached housing to unleash their creativity. However, city and creativity are not necessarily opposites.
A proper “transformation” is in this case more correct than just a renovation. The premises that used to include a traditional bakery in the past has been radically transformed into a single family house with architecture office. The impressive original brick oven has been recuperated in body and soul in order to rebuild the existing garden walls. Air, space, light and views have been fused effortlessly in a place that formerly restricted itself to four levels in a humble skin. This renovation managed to reorganise the spaces, entangling them in a creative way in order to capture more light and to achieve a more fluent transition to the park. In this way the potential of this unique location along the park has been exploited fully.
Two volumes have been accurately removed from the otherwise entirely built footprint, creating the patio gardens around which the office and kitchen meander. Near the entrance one will find the kitchen, continuing along the open staircase towards the living room and consequently reaching the more private space on the second floor. The steel staircase has been executed in an exceptionally thin way to allow a maximum of light and sight. The third and last floor underneath the existing gable roof houses a guest room, a guest bathroom and a home office.
The copper façades with weathered patina define predominantly the building’s expression. The front expresses a more formal presence in the street, with a combination of vertically streamlined copper bays with standing seams, aluminium shading and horizontally articulated windows. The rear portrays another view in which the façade is never experienced as such, but rather as a place, an elevated terrace with green roofs exhibited as large planters enjoying an open view to the park and its large poplars. This place is the extension of the living room, a bright space flooded in light thanks to its large window openings on both sides. The used materials additionally confirm the strong relation between inside and outside. The dark brown copper skin reshapes itself in more light variations of colour and texture: light grey terrazzo tile, ash wood furniture, champagne coloured detailing in addition to the existing floor beams made visible, untreated steel and timber reliëf concrete elements. It gives the house balance and character.
In the same fashion and with the same sensibility, the architecture office has been accommodated in the whole. Along a common entrance the working spaces can be reached, passing by the library. The concrete walls and ceilings seem to initiate a game of faces and folds, in a subtle manner bending around the edges of the space.