Feasability study for the renovation of a quite complex, free-standing house into a home for modern life.

Merelbeke, 2017, private client

Recessed from the street, but unmistakably specific; the house presents itself as a cabinet of curiosities, a kaleidoscope, but not a chimaera, everything has its place, its system, its meaning: the alcoves and dormers, the stairs and heights of the rooms, the hilly roof. The building offers a dense and apparently inexhaustible selection of special quality. The study has to test out the specific needs of modern life in accordance with the specific characteristics of the house, with a possible purchase in mind. To be investigated in the study: a program with more storage spaces, bigger sleeping quarters, an acoustical separation between day- and night spaces, a more sustainable whole energy-wise.

They say the numbers tell the tale. Analyses of the existing situation give insight in the house and expose her internal functioning. Building evolution plans show her past with four clear building-phases. A function analyses shows a clear clustering of functions and the specific pattern of circulation which generates no hallways, but walk-through spaces. A lot of spaces don’t meet the minimum requirement for room height. A discrepancy between spaces with almost no daylight and spaces in which it is pouring in with excess.

Different scenarios make up variations on the same concept: vertical extension and the continuation of the organizational system in which spaces wrap around a spiral circulation path. By simply moving the entrance, an in itself rotating staircase renders itself, acoustically enclosed but still allowing for spatial continuation. Extending the house can go down, by excavating. Another way is by adding volume on top of the house: the complex and fragmented roof-landscape, which is in very bad shape, is replenished and scaled up to a new clear shape, ramping up more square meters (horizontal meters) and comfortable room heights (vertical meters). The house gets a hat, that accordingly to the desired program, can be flat or sloped. The house with hat stands more serenely in the landscape than before, the complexity remains a well kept secret within.

Volumetric study hat  

Analytic diagrams of ground floor  

view towards staircase scenario 3/4  

View on livingroom scenario 1/4  

Extension with hat scenario 3/4  

Existing situation  

plan groundfloor existing situation  

plan groundfloor proposal  

Plan first floor existing situation  

Plan first floor proposal