On the site of a former convent, on the edge of the walled estate, stood a dilapidated tenement house. A single storey under a gable roof and some small outbuildings. An attached entrance pavilion provided private access through the convent wall. The whole was part of the site’s protected villagescape, which had to be kept intact during renovation. At the same time, there was a need to introduce a distance from the walkers in the public monastery garden. The design starts from a simple gesture: the four walls of the house were retained and restored, while one of the end walls of the gable roof was shifted halfway outside the volume. This created a patio within the original walls, creating the sought-after distance from the public domain, and a new room was created on the other side of the house amid the surrounding greenery.
While the starting point of the renovation seems a seemingly simple gesture, it simultaneously results in a nuanced emphasis on the existing tenement. The new plan of the house is marked by the old wall that has now moved inside, thus defining the ground-floor layout, with a kitchen on one side and the living room on the other. The new roof structure was made up of wooden fins, which also divide the upstairs spaces. The finish of the roof again consists of conventional roof tiles, which, however, are placed diagonally as a result of the shift. In contrast, the outbuildings and the entrance pavilion are modified with yellow building blocks, which become recognisable as new materials only at close range. The gesture by which the house was given a new life thus remains virtually invisible to the passer-by: the gabled roof remains a gabled roof, on top of the old walls.
Text by Bart Decroos