An elusive play of asymmetrical-angled concrete canopies along the peripheral volume of the Belgian house creates a refreshing impression of ‘introverted openness.’ Designed by the Graux and Baeyens Architecten, the House N-DP is set amongst a narrow-deep plot in Leuvense Vaart of Mechelen with a far-reaching view of the canal and the fields behind it. The triangular concrete storeys are positioned following its aesthetic necessity and responding to the surrounding factors such as proximity to the neighbours. The openings of the Belgian house are set to take in the view of its serene landscape beyond. 

Belgian House Featuring Asymmetrical Angled Concrete Canopies designed by GRAUX & BAEYENS Architecten - Sheet1
House N-DP by Graux and Baeyen Architecten_Filip Dujardin
Belgian House Featuring Asymmetrical Angled Concrete Canopies designed by GRAUX & BAEYENS Architecten - Sheet2
House N-DP by Graux and Baeyen Architecten_Filip Dujardin

A Warm Welcome 

The Belgian house stands on the ground with the support of concrete wedges that form part of the facade. These wedges help to create a continuous flow in design from the exterior to the interior. The wedge also makes a dwelling inside, building a carport and hiding the house’s entrance from outside view. However, thanks to its sizeable pivoting door and white-coloured concrete entrance step, every person who rings the doorbell feels welcomed into the house. 

The concrete core of the house on the ground has stairs, a cloakroom, and a laundry. From here, it leads to the first floor that’s nestled around the central core. 

Belgian House Featuring Asymmetrical Angled Concrete Canopies designed by GRAUX & BAEYENS Architecten - Sheet3
One of the concrete wedge that supports the house_Filip Dujardin
Belgian House Featuring Asymmetrical Angled Concrete Canopies designed by GRAUX & BAEYENS Architecten - Sheet4
Entrance Door_Filip Dujardin
Belgian House Featuring Asymmetrical Angled Concrete Canopies designed by GRAUX & BAEYENS Architecten - Sheet5
View of the pivoting door from inside_Filip Dujardin

A Thought-Provoking Contrast

Each floor of the Belgian house is set back from its previous base, and the facades of these floors are superimposed at a slightly different angle. This helps to create a sense of privacy and security for the residents. The elevated inward movement also counters the gigantic monolithic appearance of the nine-meter-high concrete building. 

Complimenting this, the overall shape of the structure casts a minimal shadow towards its neighbours. The design openings also ensure that the house is less imposing to the boats that slowly pass by on the canal and the apertures on the other side create an exciting entry to the gardens and waters. 

Belgian House Featuring Asymmetrical Angled Concrete Canopies designed by GRAUX & BAEYENS Architecten - Sheet6
Facade envelop superimposed at slightly different angle_Filip Dujardin
Belgian House Featuring Asymmetrical Angled Concrete Canopies designed by GRAUX & BAEYENS Architecten - Sheet7
House N-DP by Graux and Baeyen Architecten_Filip Dujardin

A Balance in Sheltering

All the furniture pieces in this Belgian house are custom built to suit the ambience of its interior mix of claddings. The balanced use of the warm texture of clay plaster on the wall, ceilings plastered with raw concrete, and the wooden finishes on the cupboards and glass frame enhance the user’s feelings. Architect’s alternate use of materials in outdoor and indoor spaces helps create a unique subsistence between a secure enclosure and openness. And a ray of sunshine through the glass openings in the morning hours will revitalize the resident’s minds.

Belgian House Featuring Asymmetrical Angled Concrete Canopies designed by GRAUX & BAEYENS Architecten - Sheet8
Interior of House N-DP_Filip Dujardin
Belgian House Featuring Asymmetrical Angled Concrete Canopies designed by GRAUX & BAEYENS Architecten - Sheet9
Balcony area of House N-DP_Filip Dujardin
Belgian House Featuring Asymmetrical Angled Concrete Canopies designed by GRAUX & BAEYENS Architecten - Sheet10
Interior of House N-DP_Filip Dujardin

The serene material palette of the house is worked down to the last detail. For example, a collective thought has been put into choosing the material for the railings as galvanized steel instead of modern glass. This takes away the imposing character of the concrete building and aligns the enclosures and breaches to a human scale. 

The use of galvanized steel is also reflected in the external staircase and gate, specially designed for this Belgian house. Like the facade’s outlook, recesses are applied to the gate that makes the gate’s wheels visible and gives it a refined touch. 

Belgian House Featuring Asymmetrical Angled Concrete Canopies designed by GRAUX & BAEYENS Architecten - Sheet11
Galanised Steel used in railings_Filip Dujardin

The Inner Sanctum 

The roughly square-shaped plan of the Belgian house consists of two-glazed open corners and two introverted corners opposite one another on each floor. On the ground floor, the concrete core houses a cloakroom, a laundry room, and a central staircase that connects the three levels of the home. An external metal staircase is provided that directly leads to the first-floor terrace. 

On reaching the first floor, a lounge with fireplace, a kitchen, and dining space are swaddled across the central core, and an additional seating area opens right onto the bright external terraces.

Belgian House Featuring Asymmetrical Angled Concrete Canopies designed by GRAUX & BAEYENS Architecten - Sheet12
Floor plans of House N-DP_Graux and Baeyens Architecten
Belgian House Featuring Asymmetrical Angled Concrete Canopies designed by GRAUX & BAEYENS Architecten - Sheet13
Balcony of House N-DP_Filip Dujardin
Belgian House Featuring Asymmetrical Angled Concrete Canopies designed by GRAUX & BAEYENS Architecten - Sheet14
Interior of House N-DP_Filip Dujardin
Belgian House Featuring Asymmetrical Angled Concrete Canopies designed by GRAUX & BAEYENS Architecten - Sheet15
Interior of House N-DP_Filip Dujardin

The residents can see a gradation of views on each level through the triangular windows and elevate the contrasting conditions. The kitchen catches the first rays of sun in the morning, and the living room with adjoining terrace farewells the last ray of sunshine. Each of the balconies is sheltered by a concrete envelope formed by its above floors. Now, Level two consists of four bedrooms that view the bright corners of the terrace, and the linen closets, bathrooms, and study are placed into the more introverted area. The harsh sun rays will hit the bedroom during the time it’s least occupied. Also, the concrete envelope will help in regulating the inside temperature and make the Belgian house more sustainable.

Belgian House Featuring Asymmetrical Angled Concrete Canopies designed by GRAUX & BAEYENS Architecten - Sheet16
Sections of House N-DP_Graux and Baeyens Architecten
Belgian House Featuring Asymmetrical Angled Concrete Canopies designed by GRAUX & BAEYENS Architecten - Sheet17
Isometric section of House N-DP_Graux and Baeyens Architecten

The Need for a Diverse Approach

The design approach for the Belgian house is somewhat unique. The Architects opted to commence work and research from the urban scale and work towards the interior and its details. The design logic they followed is synergetic, i.e., the different functions of the house reinforced and embraced each other. They generated relationships with the environment and were sometimes blocked from it. The reconciliation of overlapping functions, strict urban development regulation, integration of historical value, budget, and ideologies resulted in an atypical plan and structure that created its own architectural language.

Belgian House Featuring Asymmetrical Angled Concrete Canopies designed by GRAUX & BAEYENS Architecten - Sheet18
Koen Baeyens & Basile Graux
Belgian House Featuring Asymmetrical Angled Concrete Canopies designed by GRAUX & BAEYENS Architecten - Sheet19
Concept Model of House N-DP_Dennis De Smet
Belgian House Featuring Asymmetrical Angled Concrete Canopies designed by GRAUX & BAEYENS Architecten - Sheet20
House N-DP by Graux and Baeyen Architecten_Filip Dujardin
Towards the Outside View_Filip Dujardin

References 

www.metalocus.es. (n.d.). Graux and Baeyens Architecten | The Strength of Architecture | From 1998. [online] Available at: https://www.metalocus.es/en/author/graux-and-baeyens-architecten [Accessed 2 Sep. 2021].

‌ArchDaily. (n.d.). Gallery of House N-DP / GRAUX & BAEYENS Architecten – 28. [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/958036/house-n-dp-graux-and-baeyens-architecten/60414899f91c81a26d00011a-house-n-dp-graux-and-baeyens-architecten-sections [Accessed 2 Sep. 2021].

Dezeen. (2021). Graux & Baeyens slices concrete Belgian home with triangular openings. [online] Available at: https://www.dezeen.com/2021/08/25/graux-baeyens-concrete-house-mechelen-belgium/ [Accessed 2 Sep. 2021].

Author

Milan Denny is an architecture student who has just begun to explore his way into architectural journalism. He is genuinely passionate about architecture and technology and constantly seeks new experiences to widen his knowledge to blend them. Tea is the shortcut key to his heaven.

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