Atelier Vens Vanbelle is an architecture practice based in Ghent. In 2014 they renovated a house owned by a musician and painter, the original old cornerhouse building consisted of two floors and an attic, plus a courtyard that is separated from the street by a garden wall. “The inner structure of the house was in a poor condition and the rooms were too small,” explained Atelier Vens Vanbelle. “So it was decided to keep only the facade and build a completely new structure in the house.”
The studio decided to use a 12-metre-tall oak tree as a central structural column, and built a series of mezzanine floors that spiral around the trunk to form a pentagonal plan. “The tree was a logical and affordable solution, and it immediately gave the right atmosphere to the new home… Because the new floors were randomly positioned according to the existing windows,” continued the architects, “exciting vistas and lighting conditions were created.”
The rooms are connected together to create a spiral staircase that ascends through the house, room-by-room; their layout was designed so that the higher the room, the more intimate the function – for instance, the ground floor houses the owner’s studio, the living spaces are on the midway floors and the bedroom and bathroom are located at the top of the house. The building’s existing facade was restored back to its original state, and the roof was replaced. In the process, the architects created a small viewing deck, overlooking the park in front of the house.
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