Twining at the Dock

Compact, urban three-familyhouse in timber-frame structure

Ghent, 2015, private client

A patchwork borders the stream. The shore vegetation at the quay is composed of charming row houses, apartment buildings, an obnoxious office building and a blind warehouse. Somewhere in there a commercial building is dwindling. Gone glory asking for new glory. The study is concerned with three living units, all groudbound, so with a front door at street level. A tricycle that balances with three wheels on the ground. Three wheels can that work separately, but yet belong together; three living units in and on top of each other. The third wheel must moreover be able to maneuver that bit extra. One unit must be able to be used as workshop-space, popup shop, event space, gallery; a special relation with the street that demands for more than just a front door. Compact is very important and preferably everything is constructed in timber frame construction. And all three fo them at the street? That’s gonna by crowding right? Or more like braiding? Three strands tightly interwoven starting from the quay.

Complexity introduces the simple, or was is it the other way around? Three living units lined up next to each other? The lot is too small. Merely stacking the living units doesn’t seem to really answer all the questions. It’s gonna be a three dimensional puzzle, rubics-worthy. A hybrid between row houses and apartments. Spaces interlocking in plan. Within the contours of what is almost a cube, the content is shifting and jumbling. Spaces sometimes take up the full width of the lot, a luxurious nine meters. Sometimes they make themselves quite small, to make place for other stuff.

A grid brings order and then again not. A constructive grid in three dimensions witch is filled with timber frame constructions: floors, walls, roofs. In the dark center a self-twisting staircase acts as the core of an apple. From bottom to top, with the stem on top of it to reach the roof terrace. On ground level there’s an outside room with three front doors. In the plinth of the building there’s room-high windows that are opened to the water, to the street, to the people. A step in the curbstone. A small balloon escapes. In the gallery-space beyond the windows; a stair to the compact sleep floor with a playing area in the middle. Don’t trip over the toys. On top of that more sleeping, but also relaxing. A second living room, removed from the party downstairs. A second front door grants access to a garden room. Up the stair and the living space is reaching between the limits. Facade to facade, sun to sun. Upstairs another sleep area, functionally compact. Another front door, the third one: a bicycle under the stair, somewhere on top daylight, up the stairs. A penthouse takes up the full footprint. The room-high widows are also opened here. A canopy offers protection, against rain and against the sun. The lintel above the windows is actually also a canopy. The window is actually also a destination. The building is actually both row house and apartment. The facade is actually also a grid, just like the plan. It acts calm, despite all the tossing inside. Again a grid. Again with exceptions, deviations. The grid and the deviations belong together, drawing lines to color outside of them.

Compact three-family-home in timber frame construction


facade day view  

facade night view  

detail of facade  

cross section  

longitudinal cross section  

ground floor  

floor +1  

floor +2  

floor +3  

roof terrace  

diagram of units