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The project entails the construction of a rural home of 1000 m^3 for a couple with two children located in an agriculturally valuable area.
The wedge-shaped, ‘zonevreemd’ terrain of 1375 m^2 is confined between a regional road and a municipal connecting road. All four cardinal directions are marked by infinite panoramic views of open fields with the skyline of Ostend in the Northwest. The plot of land is surrounded on three sides by a creek that is part of the tide-bound drainage area of the Oudlandpolder Blankenberge basin.
We had to respect two important restrictions. Firstly, the municipal regulations demand a 5m building-free zone from the alignment and the upper edge of the watercourse; secondly a maximum build volume of 1000 m^3. There is an old, dilapidated farmhouse on the border of the terrain with the municipal road that has had multiple functions during its lifespan. A small, elongated and simple volume which together with the creek and the surrounding willows oozes the soul of this location.
In the new construction, we attempted to retain the simplicity, the solidity and the proportions of the existing farmhouse. The purpose was to construct a natural building which blends into its environment, a repetition of shapes parallel to the existing building 5m from the border of the terrain. In a radius of several kilometers, we observed numerous old agricultural buildings. Oftentimes, these were barns that caught our attention through their playful openings, rich use of colour and geometrical play. It is this level of massiveness, created by the geometrical play of deliberate openings, that we wanted to capture in the new construction. An unconscious familiarity for the many passing cars and cyclists on adjacent roads. Although behind the glazing, the typical colourful shutters were installed to darken the sleeping quarters and to provide either more or less privacy.
The new entrance to the front door is situated in the space between the rear façade of the farmhouse and the façade of the new building. We created a walk where previously the creek was located .
The poor bearing capacity of the soil caused the foundations to be expensive and therefore the surface of the construction was limited. As the building is located in the ‘wet’ Flemish polders, we decided to raise the ‘0-pas’ by 35cm. This decision was taken, on the one hand, for safety measures and on the other hand, to better enjoy the wide open spaces.
By raising the gutters, we created more space on the first floor, which allowed for natural light and views to enter the building without having to penetrate the roof surface frequently. The façade penetrations are simple, purposeful implantations which frame the beautiful views and bring them into the house. The white aluminium window profiles are obscured in the façade which is finished with a whitewashed cement plaster.
One big roof penetration, invisible from the outside, has been created between the two identical rooftops which allows for natural light to enter the building. The light is guided through a glazed shaft to the ground floor, which creates a modern-looking complex room full of light and perspectives, one of the many interactions between ground floor, ‘split-level’ and the first floor. The ‘split-level’ is a polyvalent space, 12 steps above ground level and can therefore be incorporated by both living and sleeping area. As roof coating, we opted for the frequently used red ‘stormpan’, an obvious choice in a polder landscape.
The space created by the sloping roof is fully exploited in the three sleeping quarters and polyvalent room. The small remaining spaces above the sanitary areas are used to accommodate the techniques.
The height-varying concrete plinth has in addition to its protective function against dirt and damage from the façade plastering along which people circulate, also together with the interplay between the windows, a ‘ geometrical ordening’ function.