françois martens + edouard brunet architects transform terraced house in brussels
all images © dennis de smet
architects françois martens and edouard brunet teamed up for the renovation of a typical terraced house found in brussels. the project was commissioned by the owner of a five-floor building who decided to split his dwelling into two apartments after his children grew up and left. the renovation consisted in turning the existing single family terraced residence into a building of two separate flats, that although seemed like a relatively small project, was very ambitious.
the new cantilevered space is purposely and visibly contemporary
the two architects suggested using the upper flat’s space as the living area on the top floor of the house, as to limit the nuisances between neighbors, but also to benefit from the light and open views that this floor offers. because of the limited total surface area of each floor and the top floor being set up in the attic, they decided to tear down the rear part of the roof. this allowed them to build a terrace and a new cantilevered space right where the former staircase was — installing a new one in the center of the building.
the new setting allowed to upgrade the living area giving it direct access to the terrace and more daylight
this setting allowed to upgrade the living area, giving it direct access to the terrace and more daylight reaching further into the flat. the new kitchen was enhanced with an open view to the back gardens and yards, as well as to the sky and brussel’s skyline. the creation of the terrace, apart from providing an intimate outdoor area, also adds a new element to the south façade that looks towards the south, letting more natural into the house.
all necessary functions for the new flat are organized in one single piece of furniture set
the lower part of the house saw minor changes which consisted of wood and iron fitting works. to make the flats independent, a new suspended staircase was drawn and designed alongside the craftsperson who manufactured it. the bathroom was also entirely redesigned. the combination of bamboo and iron gives this part of the house a unique atmosphere.
direct views on neighboring houses were avoided, and distances and alignments were respected
the new cantilevered space’s style is purposely and visibly contemporary, as well as uncluttered to distinguish it from the existing building: the city becomes the expression of various periods, such as a palimpsest would be. this project is the first collaboration between the two architects and it is the best example of their great attention to details, as well as their constant search for clever solutions. regardless of the limited budget, they had their aim clear — that of creating spaces that offer light, city views and use noble materials.
the new kitchen has an open view to the back gardens and yards, and to brussels’ skyline
floor-to-ceiling windows frame views of the city
birchwood was chosen for the furniture and creates a warm atmosphere throughout the entire apartment
a staircase was added
the mezzanine was suspended, to allow the overall attic volume to be seen
a suspended staircase was drawn and designed alongside the craftsperson who manufactured it
the combination of bamboo and iron gives this part of the house a unique atmosphere
location: schaerbeek, brussels – belgium
year of construction: 2015
surface area: approx. 225m²
architects: françois martens and edouard brunet – temporary association
general construction company: renodav-seb sprl (witold szklarzewski)
outside woodwork: ecovitre sprl (karol duchnowski)
ironwork (suspended iron staircase): esprit de fer (luc van massenhove)
stability engineer: jacques dufour ing.
edited by: juliana neira | designboom