Our Top 3 series takes a look at some of the world’s most innovative designers and architects, presenting you with DECOVRY’s pick of their top three projects. This week, top Belgian architect and designer Vincent Van Duysen is in the spotlight.
Born in Belgium, Van Duysen began his career as an architect, establishing his own practice back in 1989. However, not only does this innovative thinker work in architecture, but he has always been interested in the relationship between the built environment, the interior and product design.
The three residential projects chosen for this week’s Top 3 spotlight display the architect’s use of clean, pure materials and his paired-back, timeless approach to design.
WM II Residence
Designed in 2012, this Antwerp residence was originally built in the 1920s with Art Deco elements. The original home had small windows, and thus a rather dim interior, matching the row of houses in the area’s suburban streets, however in the remodelling, the owners were looking to create a lighter, brighter and more airy space that felt more free, informal and reflective of their own modern lives.
Revising the layout was the crux of this design intervention, starting with the ground floor space. A more intimate entrance area was created, the kitchen layout was amended, and the living room arranged around a central fireplace, allowing for views of the terrace and pool house at the rear of the lot, which houses a gym, steam room and sauna, connected to the main residence by underground corridors.
Apart from changing the layout of the space, the revitalisation is primarily in the use of materials. Soft, bone-colour toned stone, lacquer and natural oak open up the space, bringing in a fresh, light feeling and mirroring the bright, sophisticated, and refreshingly informal space the family were looking to introduce.
Another Antwerp-based project, this design used the existing two major spaces of the apartment in order to create one harmonious space. The general principal of this design was to use these two spaces to create a day, and a separate night area.
The day area encompasses the seating and eating areas, without any formal entrance to the space, while the bathroom and service rooms are designed to be completely open, with large doors and sliding walls cutting off the space from view when needed. The corridor between the bedrooms, in fact, was designed with a washbasin at the end and an open shower, transforming this space that would normally be rather transitional into a reimagined bathroom.
A large steel-framed glass wall cuts off the day from the night area, allowing the space to feel larger and formally creating these distinct spaces in what was otherwise a rather undefined room. With a stone kitchen counter and bathroom elements, black steel trimmed windows and natural wood used in the kitchen and flooring, the materials additionally create a sense of uniformity in this residence.
At this rural residence, Van Duysen reimagines old, traditional materials into a bright, open, modern space. Converted from a cluster of farmhouses in a gently sloping countryside landscape, the traditions of Flemish rural architecture inform the reimagining of this residence without hindering its ability to provide what the owners were looking for.
Two large barns at separate sides of a main courtyards, and several smaller buildings stand alongside the redesigned farmhouse. Creating wide openings throughout the interior of the space draws attention to the beautiful sightlines, while maintaining respect for the traditional Raumplan design.
Large windows allow residents to look out onto the surrounding landscape, while wooden flooring and furniture, aged bluestone and kalei brick combine the feeling of rural roughness, with a conscious textured palette that both celebrates the old and invites the feeling of a timeless modern approach.
Source: Vincent Van Duysen