refurbishment of 2 adjacent houses

date 2008 / 2011-2013
location Drongensesteenweg, Gent (BE)
client private
icw UTIL (structural engineer)
photography AKB on site (1), Kristien Daem (3-7), Corentin Haubruge (9-10)

With two families and three generations we live in a space recently converted from two houses to one: a newly composed home in a densely populated neighbourhood of Ghent. The street is lively and crowded. The neighbourhood is a fascinating spectacle of the social processes shaping the city. Since the neighbourhood was founded in the 19th century, our houses have been characters on the stage of spatial history. Before we settled here, they were cherished by previous residents, about whom we only have bits and pieces of information. We are grateful that the changes they made did not fundamentally affect the potential of the old bourgeois houses. It was important for us that the original role, proportions and inspiration when renovating the house were respected, creating thus a kind of reinterpretation of the 19th century scenario.We are delighted when visitors ask what exactly has changed. It seems as if everything always was as it now is. In this way Kristoffel’s architecture bridges history and spontaneously acquires a kind of eternal value. Notwithstanding the quite radical nature of the renovations, they feel absolutely right. After all, they start from the essence of each individual house and make use of the opportunities offered by the erratic building history. The whole design - the sum of the choice of materials, well thought-out structural interventions, and an eye for detail - is ingeniously simple.