In the context of the urban centre of Ghent, a contemporary rooftop extension was added to an existing historic building. While the main volume facing onto the Korenlei was retained and thoroughly renovated, due to precious ornaments on the façade and interior, the rear façade and the roof were completely rebuilt.The main architectural elements – the gable roof and the chimney volumes – were finished in natural stone slabs in a neutral colour on the façade, so that the roof volume is also less explicitly present on the Graslei side. Contemporary workmanship subtly suggests the function of the new roof volume. The sloping roof, in natural stone, was conceived as a shell with open joints under which the effective waterproofing is located.
The more enclosed roof space has a large asymmetrical dormer on the fourth floor, which was pushed halfway into the roof volume, creating a small terrace at the front with an astonishing panorama over the famous medieval towers of Ghent behind. On the third floor, behind the attic, the roof was cut across its entire width to provide sufficient light and air – however, this incision is not visible at street level because it is hidden by the roof’s cornice.At the rear, the new brick façade was given a classical treatment without ornament, and above this a contemporary extension indicates the roof levels at the third and fourth floor.The external details of the contemporary parts were conceived in steel, while the front and rear façades of the main volume with the smaller, more classical window panelling were given more traditional wood joinery.The contemporary design indicates the expansion and the renewed use of the project, but it also expresses respect for the original material, bluestone, which was used both for waterproofing and ornamentation. The end result is a harmonious whole in which the material use and details reference a contemporary architectural language as well as the historical context.
Photography:Koen Van Damme