House H is located in Houthulst, West-Flanders. The client was the mayor of this village from 2003 to 2006 and that creates a bond. In the past he realized some projects with dmvA for Hogeschool Vives, of which he is the director.
When he considered to buy a model house due to a limited budget, he consulted dmvA. Since dmvA believed that the model house didn’t fit in with the surroundings, a non-binding sketch was made of a house where all residential functions are located on the ground floor. That way there would be no insight from the surrounding apartment buildings. The client was convinced by the sketch and decided to work with dmvA for the creation of his home.
There were some unfavorable factors of the plot that dmvA had to take into account for the design. For example, the plot isn’t orientated very well and is surrounded by high apartment buildings. Moreover, there was a limited budget and the project had to have a low ecological footprint. dmvA followed the concept of a nine-square grid with a patio and skylight to provide light indoors. The middle segment became a patio, with alongside a covered terrace with a sliding door. It resulted in a home where sufficient light and air circulates, contact with the garden included. On the plot there were three old tall trees, a legacy of the former adjacent Xaverian monastery: a beech in the front, an oak in the back and a walnut tree in the middle. dmvA wanted to preserve all trees, serving as a buffer to create some privacy and to forge a park feeling. The walnut, however, could not be preserved in terms of construction, but was replaced by a young holm oak.
There are large sliding gates along each side of the house, inspired by rural barn gates, which can cover the windows for privacy. The gates consist of vertical bars that are sometimes at an angle of 45° or 90°, depending on which façade they hang. In addition to creating privacy, they also serve as sun blinds. The windows are framed with window frames that are as wide as the thickness of the wall, creating a maximum sense of space. The combination of the block frames and the patio, which creates diagonal views, makes the living space appear larger than it actually is. The roof with a visible wooden beam structure gives the house a warm atmosphere and a rural touch, according to the wishes of the client. Where the roof goes up, there is a dome above the seating area, that lets the natural light in. The bathroom also has a skylight, since it’s the only room not connected to the patio.