Drift

Renovation and extension of a historic row house in which the lines tilt, leap or tilt where necessary.


It doesn’t really stand out, it’s pretty subtle, just a small gesture, but it does a lot. At the back site of the historic house, the old extension leaps out of the way. One day it was possible to see the garden from the middle room, past the kitchen, a quality forgotten in later construction phases. Between main building and extension the wall is skewed and a diagonal relationships between the spaces is formed, a rare phenomenon for the typology of the historic row house. There’s also the sun. The rear façade and garden are mainly north-orientated, although there’s a lot of direct evening light. The ground floor needs to be re-planned.

The design step-wise opens itself from front to back. The kitchen is placed in the front, by the very big window at the street side. Occasional activities can be observed. There’s a complicated closet between kitchen and hallway, with many spots, benches, a bike-alcove and an interior window. Behind that the dining room table and the new hallway door. Entering the ground floor now occurs in the core of the house and punctuates the linear circulation. Behind that the old rear façade like we found it, with skew. Between skew and extension a small study space beneath the platform of the stairs. A studious cave, low and concentrated. Behind that the last room. The ceiling does the same as the historic extension, it leaps out of the way to make space for other stuff. The evening light penetrates through the high window, deep and red. The ceiling is as simple as possible, no curves, but simply a tilt of the plane around a diagonal axis. Right next to the sharp line of the skylight, a round skylight is to be found. The lines do as they must, sometimes they leap, or tilt, or skew. A drift away from their expected direction. When it is needed. And then something happens there.

Preliminary design

Ghent