In a strange paradox, the arrested development of Bruges of the 19th century has turned it into one of the most ‘green’ cities in Belgium today. Its centre is largely pedestrianized, safe, comfortable and compact. The renovation of this small terraced house, along one of the ‘Reien’ in the historical heart of Bruges, taps into this quality: it starts from the premise that living here is as much living inside as in the space of the city outside.

The most common-place reading of the project is to see it as an existing house with a new addition: a spacious and generously lit winter garden, designed as double-height space entirely covered in timber planks, which starts off as an arch and gradually lifts asymmetrically towards the back.

Another possibility is to disregard the distinction between old and new, and to see the house as a device to activate its relation to the surroundings, appropriating something that it doesn't own. As such, the house can be read as one single entity organized around 3 windows; the first an existing over-scaled window of a former shop addressing the scale of the equally oversized seminary across the water; the second an amorphous, stretched window, looking at something which it cannot fully see: the park-like neighbour’s garden on the other side of the wall; the third a pane of (black) glass sitting on top of the central fire place, reflecting the dark self of the house, indirectly mirroring the soft and melancholic urbanity of the city of Bruges.

row house refurbishment
urban enveloppe
structural ribs