Text description provided by the architects. Restoration and renovation of a 19th century listed mansion in the centre of Ghent for living, working and relaxing. The mansion was originally designed by arch. Minard back in 1878. The house was in a bad shape. Nonetheless…
What is striking: the generous passage, the beautifully decorated salons on the ground floor, the rich ornaments, … What is amazing: the original circulation. The stairs – wide and narrow, curved and straight, light and dark, magnificent and sober – are a translation of the double life that was once lived in the house. The visible and present chic next to the invisible support in the form of maids who moved silently through the house …. The traversability feels good, it offers endless movement through the house.
What is surprising is the courtyard enclosed between the house in front and the back house. The relationship with the home is limited to the former coach passage, the only space on the same level as the outdoor space. The current passage has no character. What hinders is an old annex that nestles in an unnatural way against the back of the main house. The extension separates the historic decorated spaces on the ground floor of the courtyard and makes them dark. The construction is broken down and then it can start.
Decisions are made: a new kitchen & family rooms in the sous-sol, in harmony with the new annex, the offices in the prestigious salons on the bel-étage, sleeping on the first and second floor, home cinema & atelier spaces in the attic, and pool & wellness in the annex. Interior design is elaborated: mirror cabinets for the daughters, own seating area for the son, marble in the bathroom, warm & cosy dressing, restoration of original features, …. The original circulation & staircases forms a strong backbone for the distribution of the diverse program (living – working – relaxing) and public office spaces vs private family spaces.
The preserved circulation is radically reinforced by adding a new metal staircase in the garden and a precast concrete staircase to the sous-sol, designing further on the 19th century circulation concept. The garden & pool house can so become part of the original circulation concept that offers infinites wanders in the family house.
The backhouse is transformed into an open and airy pool house. Six meters in height. Twenty meters wide. The pool positioned in the corner to enforce the dramatic effect of an empty shell with skylight. Big sliding panels open the pool house to the courtyard.
The complete design forms a symbiosis of restoration – renovation and radical new architectural interventions.