The original house, built in 1950 and sited in majestic park-like grounds of established oak and sycamore trees, was designed by Belgian architect Joseph Viérin, in the fashionable style of a French villa. It is built of brick, painted white, and has a distinctive terracotta-tiled pitched roof. Over the years it has had some additions, including a rather remarkable study fitted with cabinetry and lighting by celebrated Belgian furniture designer and interior architect Jules Wabbes.
Not only the owner asked to remodel the existing house but also briefed to create a pool house and wellness area that was both separate from, and linked to, the house. Landscape designer Paul Deroose devises a series of three water ponds sited in front of the existing house and the dining area of the pool house, encouraging the eye to see the relationship between the two. This linking is furthered by two key elements – a brick wall, painted white, extending from the side of the house to create a courtyard and the ribbon of handmade terracotta tiles that delineate the large cantilevered roof of the simple Miesian structure. While this unifies at roof level, on the ground Belgian bluestone flagstones run from the kitchen out to the courtyard, continuing into the pool house to form the entire surface of the subterranean hammam. The flow is unbroken and the visual and physical connection is clearly apparent.
The pool house, complete with dining, lounge and kitchen at ground level and a wellness area in the basement, becomes home to the family in summertime. The entirely glazed building, with ceiling heights in excess of three meters, closes up in winter, but in summer, at the touch of a button, these immense walls of glass sink down into the earth completely disappearing and leaving the relationship of inside and out entirely unfettered. What seems so effortless for the user actually involved the excavation of underground rooms that house the mechanics and provide a place for the glass to rest when not in use.
text by Karen McCartney
Photography:Koen Van Damme