Prune & Prop

Renovation and reorganisation of a rowhouse in which spaciousness is achieved by getting rid of obstacles


As usual one finds the corridor, a front room, a back room and a small patio on the ground floor of the house. The rooms function, but they somehow lack some spatial quality, they seem to be rather unwanted neighbors. The patio is snipped sharply by the turn of the building block. Due to lack of space, the Belgian ‘extension-rage’ has solemnized vertically, against the back facade. It houses a whole series of underused functions like a toilet, stokehole, terrace, storage room and multiple canopies. The design will consist mainly of purging the house of things, a rather pseudo-archeological endeavor.

No sooner said than done. That which what was added is taken away, and then some more. The back facade is being purged of its extensions, straight up and the light can enter deep into the house again. Transversal walls are maximally opened. Cutting and propping till the borders between spaces blur. Traditionally one would do this propping with concrete and brick, but that’s too massive here. Steel porticos are slimmer: one small portico and one big, with a vierendeel girder as spacious skylight. The columns are detached from the walls, that way the wall just continues in one movement and the span gets smaller. The space opens up in width, length and height. The three rooms –the patio as third outdoor room- become one continuous space with zones, from street to garden wall. The kitchen is moved to the street side, so you can wave to your neighbors while the fish is frying. The living space is in the back, near the room-large window, near the patio with the plants. The kitchen furniture continues and becomes a library, then a television cabinet, and eventually bench and garden storage. Somewhere along the cupboard-trail a child is playing. The sky has cleared up outside and someone is opening the folding window.

Renovation of the ground floor of one family home.

Jette, Brussels



Partners:
Lime (structure)
Dirk De Groof (energy and safety consultant)

Execution:
Dreamhouse construct (general enterprise)
Quadrowood (parquet)
Peter Hillen (carpentry)

construction  

construction site  

construction site  

construction  

construction  

ground floor - old & new  

cross section  

cross section - detail  

cross section - detail  

cross section - detail  

facade - old  

facade - new