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Private Home

Schoten, Belgium

Short information

Building category
Living
Products
Windows, Doors, Sliding systems, Security
Series
AWS 60, AWS 70.HI, ADS 70.HI, ASS automatic, Schüco AWS 50 - 75
Location
Schoten, Belgium
Completion
2011

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Project details

Object description

Uniform design, puristic building materials, transparency and well-conceived functional areas – even at a second glance, the home of the Braeckmans family in Schoten, Belgium appears to be a newbuild with a character shaped by contemporary architecture. But in reality it is an example of “extensive remodelling”, whereby major changes to the fabric of the building and a uniform utilisation concept converted a country home into a modern villa. System technology from Schüco in the form of large-scale windows, a sliding door system with guide tracks embedded in the floor and a two-storey curtain wall make a substantial contribution to an energy-conscious, transparent way of living.

In recent years, the concept of “extensive remodelling” has established itself between the alternatives of “newbuild” and “renovation”. There are several reasons for this. For one thing, good locations in the vicinity of a city and in urban areas are more sought after than ever before. If appropriate plots are up for sale, there is generally an existing building there. The condition and architectural style of this property along with its floor plan present the new owner with a difficult decision - a unique decision which calls for consultation with an expert. Because, in view of the high level of state energy-saving requirements, the cost of a renovation can comfortably equal that of a newbuild or extensively remodelled building. With the disadvantage that largely retaining the architectural style and also the floor plan places significant limitations on design freedom and individualisation.

 

High transparency and continuity through to the garden, generosity in the division of rooms and integration of functional areas are living requirements which have only evolved in recent times and were only made possible by corresponding building materials and system technology whilst taking even the strictest energy efficiency requirements into consideration. Only in very few cases are such qualities present in older existing properties. As extensive remodelling entails far greater alterations to the existing fabric of the building than a renovation, it can sometimes be seen as a more attractive method in terms of both finance and aesthetics.

Live analysis of strengths and weaknesses

A family of architects with two children chose this special method for their private home in Schoten, near Antwerp in Belgium. They had already been living in the country home with a saddle roof for some years, where the natural beauty of the location on a 5900 m2 plot of land was considered a large slice of luck. The site already boasted a pool and a small guesthouse. Although a major renovation of the main house was planned from the outset, the family consciously decided to live in the property for a longer period of time before beginning any work, in order to develop a profile of requirements for the subsequent renovation which was as precise and individual as possible. Above all, this allowed weaknesses in the existing architecture to be actively experienced and corrected in the concept for the forthcoming building project. In this pre-planning phase, significant changes to the fabric of the building clearly stood out as the better alternative to renovation. Although the foundations and foundation walls of the building were to be retained, the aim otherwise was to use a modern, light architectural style to completely reorganise the interior layout in accordance with the carefully considered, practical living requirements of the family.

Extra space gained on the top floor

Replacing the former saddle roof with a flat roof, thereby creating a full storey on the top floor, was amongst the most important changes. It shapes the henceforth modern, cubic appearance of the building. Equally modern is the approach to transparent and closed surfaces in the building envelope. Closed in the entrance area (north side) and wide open on both levels on the south-facing garden side, the architecture gives equal consideration to energy efficiency and visual-functional requirements. The principal living areas of kitchen, dining room and living room offer views of and access to the terrace and grounds with pool. This guarantees high light penetration and an experience of nature all year round.

Slimline curtain wall and sliding door system

The use of the two-storey Schüco FW 50+ curtain wall further enhances the seamless visual transition between the interior and exterior. Two storey-high glass units on each level are divided by system profiles that are so slender that an impression of maximum transparency is created. An equally slimline sliding door system located to one side of the kitchen allows easy access to the terrace. In addition to its high insulation qualities, the advantage of the Schüco ASS 70.HI system construction is the ground-level track, which is recessed in the floor by 50 mm. Elsewhere in the building envelope, there are several other window systems of type Schüco AWS 70.HI which are coordinated in terms of colour and profile appearance.

Honest materials

According to Werner Braeckmans, the concept of living at ground level on the ground floor and having bedrooms and living rooms for the children on the first floor has clearly proven its worth in everyday life. Equally, the high levels of natural light penetration through the large-scale system glazing give the property itself a light and open appearance and create a seamless openness to nature in the warmer seasons. The use of puristic, “honest” building materials was equally important to Braeckmans. Inside and out, his universal design concept functions through a dialogue between brick cladding, natural wood panelling, exposed concrete units, large glass surfaces and accents created using homogeneously painted profiles made from steel and aluminium. Of course, all of this is in line with current and future thermal insulation requirements.