Since 2005, architect couple Hans Weemaes and Karin Janssens from hk architecten in Antwerp, have worked together in the design of private residences full of character. In both their renovation and new build projects, the pair aim to create a balanced unity between interior and exterior, between home and surroundings, between living, working and relaxation. Frequently, they also design the furniture and garden, including terraces and paving, throughout the course of their projects. In 2009, they conceived a single-family house in Brecht, and here they were at liberty to give free reign to their architectural vision. The result is a conspicuously inconspicuous residence, where strict volumes seamlessly and playfully fit together and where the paving in the garden cannot be distinguished from the property façade.
Single-family house, Brecht, Belgium
hk architecten, Antwerp
Terca Crea Nero Waal Format (WF)
200 x 50 x 88 mm (WF), 200 x 65 x 88 mm (DF), 202 x 99 x 73 mm
Forum Ombra WF
Single-family house in Brecht
Hans Weemaes: “For this residence we wanted a particularly strict and monolithic appearance. In doing so, the front of the building facing south is characterised by a relatively closed design. The privacy on the front side is further emphasised by the use of a claustrum gable, that is a ‘perforated’ wall of facing bricks was positioned at some distance in front of the actual glazed area on the upper level. In this way, a narrow courtyard space is created in front of the window. The client’s study, which is located behind the glazing on the upper level, thus enjoys soft and filtered daylight, while views from the outside are blocked. On the other three sides, on the other hand, we have designed large window areas for a maximum incidence of light.” Although strictly monolithic on the outside, the interior design can be referred to as introverted. Differences in level between the living and dining room on the ground floor intensify this impression. As does the discreet integration of the master bedroom above the garages and the shared terrace for both children’s rooms, which is designed as a social meeting place.
The repetitive openings in the claustrum provide a beautiful as well as playful, rhythmic pattern, which perfectly harmonises with the applied jointing technology. Originally, the facing bricks were to be glued but, ultimately, the client decided against this option so the façades were finally constructed in a traditional way with black mortar. The horizontal joints were scraped out which, in combination with the random pattern, provides for a subtle horizontal interplay of lines.
From the road, a path made of paving bricks leads up to the property. The path is lined with plants alternating with Dolomite areas. The transition from the footpath to the house is formed by a raised section leading down to the sunken entrance. Hans Weemaes: “For the façade of the property we selected Forum Ombra brick, in the Waal Format (WF). For the garden we were looking for a paver which would be a perfect match with regard to colour, format and appearance, in order to intensify the monolithic characteristic of the house. We used Terca Crea Nero WF, as both these products are very similar in appearance. We maintained consistency of application in our design approach by arranging the pavers in a random pattern just as with the facing bricks of the house. For both the footpath and the raised entrance section, the walls were built with facing bricks, positioned on concrete and mortared. The result was a concrete trough, which was filled with terrace pavers arranged without joints and in a random pattern in a bed of sand. Adjoining the living and dining rooms on the rear side of the property, narrow terraces were also laid out. In all, around 45 square metres of paving bricks were used.” The successful combination of facing and paving bricks creates an aesthetic which radiates calm and strength, which appertains to the profound and elaborate architectural concept.
Expectations and demands are high, the wish list is long. This presents architects and clients with complex challenges. In consideration of the demands and expectations relating to quality of living, indoor climate, health and energy-efficiency, bricks, clay blocks and roof tiles prove to be very valuable building materials.