Beyond the facade

When the current owners bought the listed school façade (anno 1908) with the vacant piece of land behind, they were the fourth owners in a row. The other buyers hadn’t found a solution to build a contemporary house behind the heritage facade. What do you do with a heritage listed school façade that you have to restore in the original state with the authentic window division etc?

The façade was beautiful but extremely difficult at the same time, because it didn’t have the proportions of an ordinary home. Contact with the street is very important, so Atelier Vens Vanbelle decided to extrude the windows into spaces. The first ‘tube’ is a majestic entrance, the middle one is the kitchen, and the third is a desk/office space. This principle was repeated in the rear facade where the niches are storage, sitting and play areas. The living space is situated in between these two white extrusions.

Everything is designed in relationship with the dimensions of the windows, and the gap between the windows: the kitchen, the desk. Due to the choice of materials, the building appears to look like it has history and lived in when it is actually is a completely new construction behind the façade, which I find incredible!

The house is built with a logical route in mind: when the inhabitants get up in the morning, they first pass the bathroom, then go downstairs through the stairs in the kitchen for breakfast, etc. The result is an airy and logical house, just like the concept of this new building that forms a harmonious unity with the 19th century façade.

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