Photos by Tim Van de Velde en Thomas De Bruyne
The house is situated in a residential allotment with “bungalow” houses from the early sixties, surrounded by dunes, not far from the Belgian seaside.
To bring the house into accordance with the surrounding houses and the environment and to answer to the building regulations, the design of the house was inspired by the bungalow typology. At first glance it looks like a single storey house.
Next to the strict building regulations the residents had very specific demands; they wanted to live on the same level as the street, but they did not want passersby to be able to look inside. On the other hand they also wanted the possibility of inviting people, giving them all comfort, without loosing their own privacy.
The concept of the residence starts from a horizontal concrete plateau that cantilevers against a concrete conical wall. Underground, on the other side of the wall, two hidden rooms with patios provide a counterweight to the horizontal plateau.
This conceptual approach answers the specific and seemingly contradictory demands.
The bungalow is situated on the new concrete plateau hidden behind the concrete wall. It is carried by the platform, and can thus extend beyond that of the neighbors. It has a completely open view over the allotment behind the house and seems to release itself from the latter.
The original site slopes down a full level compared to the rear of the garden.The platform, a table/land, allows the surrounding terrain to remain naturally rough (another building restriction). The main living areas seem to float over the landscape. On the other side, they are embedded in the gardenscape and connected to the street level.
The plateau covers a carport situated on the lower basement level. The ramp with concrete staircase next to the slope leads to the entrance of 2 studios and the carport. For reasons of privacy, the studios with bathroom and kitchen are situated in front of the conical wall. A cutout in the horizontal surface has been made for these rooms that each have a courtyard providing air and light. This way, both studios can have big windows while preserving a sense of privacy and intimacy. The positioning of the bungalow on the plateau creates large terraces for the residence (in the back as well as in the front) which can be used as an evening streetside terrace. The terrace is shielded by the conical wall, which is provided with a composition of cutouts devised to provide the residence with ample light, optimal view and elegant passage. This wall ensures the privacy of the residents while guaranteeing well-choosen views towards the street and the dunes.
Wallpaper * magazine on Villa CD
Text by Harriet Thorpe
A brutalist villa with a secret sunken storey has risen from the Belgian dunes near Oostduinkerke, a small seaside town known for its untarnished beaches and shrimpers on horseback. The family home is located within a community of bungalows built in the early 1960s, bordering a protected nature reserve on one side.
Strict building regulations specified the height and distances from the road and to the neighbours, while also requiring the structure to fit in with the residential style. Developing these guidelines into their design, Office O Architects (OOA) also had to meet their brief.
The clients, an older couple, had contradictory demands requesting privacy, yet openness and intimacy for their own living quarters, as well as space for their extended family. Magalie Munters, lead designer at OOA, describes the project as an ‘organisational puzzle’.
"They came up with an architectural solution on which the whole property pivots: a concrete ‘table’ and a perpendicular wall at the front of the plot. ‘The combination of the horizontal plateau and the conical wall answers the different questions – structural, constructive, psychological,' says Munters."
The plateau holds the self-serving home for the couple, yet as it extends out the land curves down to open up space for a lower storey, housing two studios for their children and grandchildren. From the back of the villa, the building is a two-storey home, yet from the front it is a bungalow. Similarly, the conical wall has dual functions – operating as a shield for privacy, while its irregular openings bring in light, frame views and seen from the street act as a beguiling design feature.
‘The material choices were mainly guided by a distinct dialogue between the extrovert structure and the bungalow-typology,’ says Munters, who selected the piled white bricks, aluminium and tubular steel railings to reference the mid-century style of the surrounding area and give the home a ‘timeless feel’.
"Villa CD is a lovely private residence built on the sand dunes of the Belgian seaside. Designed by Office O Architects, this home utilises its challenging site to create a truly unique and gorgeous dwelling.
The front of the home appears as a single level rectangular form; it is only in the back that we are revealed to a two-story structure embedded into the dunes. An impressive cantilever supports the upper floor while adding aesthetic interest to an otherwise simple structure. Oversized windows line most of the façade, granting views of the sea and sand. A concrete wall along the street side preserves the residents’ privacy, while cutouts in the wall allow a peek to the outside.
The interior is characterised by a plethora of concrete floors and walls against a white backdrop. Soft curtains draw along the wide windows, embracing privacy without sacrificing natural light. Dark wood furnishings, much of which are built-in, add warmth and depth to the dwelling spaces.
Thoughtful design and careful planning led Villa CD to become a captivating home where beauty and function merge seamlessly."
"Following a "smoke and mirror" approach,
the architects built a poured concrete, conical wall along the street side.
They then ingeniously positioned well placed "cutouts" in this wall, to highlight the street view for the residents inside the home,
while at the same time preserving their privacy."
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