The Canopy House in the Flemish Pajottenland.
Nomination Mies van der Rohe Prize 2011 (EU)Steel Prize 2010 (BE)
A house in a valley
the course of history the word canopy has evolved from the Egyptian urn
with a removable (human) head, to a mosque with a dome, to a bed under a
large mosquito net and finally to an armchair covered or draped with
linen.The client, a native of Antwerp added on top a local meaning : a sandwich (canapé). What we try to achieve is to give a monumental house the swung of a piece of furniture. The building blocks we started with are 2 identical (be it
mirror wise) folded [...]EL-shapes (Fig).These consoles, we can click together, in a shifted manner, give it some margin for play.This margin allows to introduce the circulation (ramps run from bottom to top) and to hide half a level high storage spaces in-between the living spaces.The upper console (containing bedrooms, study, kitchen and dining room) is grafted onto the street.The lower console (containing garden flat, living space and library) is oriented somewhat to the garden and the landscape behind.Around these core elements sits a homogeneous skin : roof, front and back façade caught in one loop; the static building volume lifted out of its joints.With his big volume and ceramic red polyester bandage, thecontemporary house is coinciding with the vernacular farm buildings spread throughout the landcape.
DecapitationA story about the words "guise", "Geus", "gaas" (Dutch for veil).Arriving into this rural country, west from Brussels, the landscape changes
dramatically. From suburbs it goes to the soft rolling hills that are
best known from Brueghel the Elder's paintings. Particularly where our
site is, given to the castle of Gaasbeek that has been dominating it for
many centuries, the landscape is very well preserved.This
castle is a landmark in Belgian history, as it is known as the residence
of the 'Count of Egmont'. Both 'Egmont and Hoorne', freethinkers,
dissidents, 'Geuzen' have been decapitated on the Grand Place of
Brussels by the duke of Alva, leader of the Spanish Inquisition under
the rule of Philip II. The aim was to smother the rise of the Protestant
Church in the Netherlands.The Canopy House is built in the adjacent valleys. The client wanted us to capture the special light that is hanging there. We
dealt with it as following : The ramp that runs to the top, ends with a
shower of glass. A crow's nest. From here sight through a vertical slit
window that sits in the sloping roof, is oriented on the castle,
standing at a distance.The clients, lawyers -particularly
Frank is a notorious freethinker, writer,a policy maker, Geus in every
sense- are able to wash themselves as a true act of rejuvenation, as a
catharsis, in memory of this one line of flight.
Building materials : A 600m2, 20 meters long house allowing for a 10% ramp. The ramp organizes the spaces into split-levels. . A visible steel structure
facilitates the ability to cantilever, and shift the plans : deforming
the box and roof typology. A staircase poured in concrete provides extra
stiffness (ochre metallic)Half level high storage spaces 'hide' wind trusses.Exterior : cladding in a polyester bandage (altered with continuous glass walls). Wooden shingles as roof material.
Sustainability : A loop of roof shingles onnorth-south axis versus cold or heat.The
house is a bubble ; energy losses reduced, greenhouse effect enforced.
Roof water and drainage runs into an existing pond on the site and
contributes to flora and fauna.