bassam el okeily: narrow house
bassam el okeily: narrow house bassam el okeily: narrow house
nov 02, 2010

bassam el okeily: narrow house

‘narrow house’ by bassam el okeily and karla menten in bilzen, belgium all images courtesy bassam el okeily photographer: tim van de velde

‘narrow house’ by brussels-based architect bassam el-okeily is a three-storey building in bilzen, a small city near the eastern border of belgium. the project, which is a collaborative design with architect karla menten, features a dynamic and expressive street facade: a glass-encased layer of space that could be defined as an thin atrium, with two jutting look-out balconies that are skewed in angles and directions. lit up in a multitude of colours, the face of the ‘narrow house’ acts as a public light sculpture by night.

street facade

sitting on a lot that is just 5.3 meters wide, the dwelling which was built for a couple accommodates a garage and entrance on the ground floor. the second and third level above are completely enclosed in glazing, exposing a white facade with a set of balconies. the lower balcony connects to the the client’s library and reading nook, offering him natural light as well as a sheltered view of the street. the upper platform, which seems to be turned slightly to face the other,  juts off the third-level studio, where the woman of the house works as an artist.

(left) building face illuminated in blue light (upper right) building face illuminated in yellow light (lower right) view from the interior

one of the lookouts seen from below

because one of the two exposed facades of the house is made mostly solid by the balcony set-up, the rest of the interior draws on clever slicing away of ceiling mass and walls to sufficiently light up the space. the main living space on the ground level is set back further into the lot and features a carved out atrium that allows natural light to wash down the walls from above. small geometric windows and clerestories allow rooms that are not directly linked to the facade to still be bright and well-lit.

jagged ceiling and window strip

(left) ceiling form of dining and lounge (right) look-out facing the street side

main living space

studio on the third level upper floor balcony to the left

(left) looking down from the balcony (right) studio

looking out into the back yard

dining and lounge

views of the backyard outdoor space

at night from the backyard

floor plan / level 0 (1) garage (2) kitchen (3) lounge and dining (4) patio and backyard (5) wc (6) cloakroom

floor plan / level 1 (7) hallway (8) library (9) bathroom (10) bedroom

floor plan / level 2 (11) studio


  • wow

    LML says:
  • lovly , as dream , white , transparency,

    i like sure

    haber says:
  • disgustingly good.

    TYZ says:
  • Like it …

    RDR says:
  • nice backyard

    joey says:
  • Superbe!

    thevzitor says:
  • Probably shouldn’t have asked Cy Twombly to do the sketch work.

    officegrump says:
  • Beautiful, lifeless and cold…

    Max says:
  • i just want to get several buckets of paint and just throw them at the walls. But is still a very, very nice…is it a home? or a project?

    Bradley says:
  • I love the sketches

    piecrust says:
  • sculpturally beautiful, but unlivable.

    Jared says:
  • everyone complains bout how “cold” the interior design is. I guarantee after this residence has been occupied for over a year art on the walls and accessories & personal effects will accumulate and make this great space more human.
    This is common with very contemporary architecture presentation. The architect usually has photos taken with exaggerated minimal interior design in order to highlight the building. Truly good architects are mindful the comfort of their clients.

    Chris O. says:
  • Great studio project.
    Lacks soul a good, an example of a model made into real architecture, I personally think is better as a project.

    tipa says:
  • disgusting sketches. pointless balconies.

    archic says:
  • Sculpturally beautiful. I could live there.
    wonderful pointless balconies. Look outs…
    I would have enjoyed building this.

    Free Form Constructural Realism says:
  • art

    Luca says:
  • the sketches are hard to understand, but the finished product, the home, is so beautiful !

    jojo says:
  • Why is everyone panning the sketches? Without the sketches the architecture, music, writing, painting, sculpture, ad nauseum doesn’t happen . It’s part of the creative process; the beginning. Do you understand an oak tree from an acorn?

    D. Barber says:
  • actually, living in a house like this is easier than it seems – the whiteness and minimalism of the interior are a great canvas for all the (usually) colorfull crap you accumulate. a little colourfull mess even looks good on pictures. =)

    LNa says:

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