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This renovation project for a farmhouse in the Belgian Ardennes, represents one of MJosé Van Hee finest interventions into existing fabric. Although the massive walls pierced by a limited amount of windows underwent a reasonable transformation, the original lay-out of the building can still be read in the current plan.

While the rooms on the southern side (the kitchen on the ground floor and the bedrooms on the first floor) where kept, their arrangement was consistently copied throughout the whole width of the building. The staircase retained its original position, however a second one was installed on the opposite side of the house. Even the barn, a later addition on the northern side of the house, lives on in the outline of the terrace.

As in her other work, the design of the project is based on a well-balanced proportion of the different spaces. While the sleeping quarters are rather compact, a large part of the building is occupied by the living and dining room, which, due to their configuration, don’t come across as oversized. The living room is organized around a central chimney, an element that comes back in the architect’s more recent projects as well. A wooden wall between the adjacent dining room creates a shielded off place for the cold winter nights. Both dining and living room – perpendicular to one another – enjoy great views through the fully glazed back façade.

The corridor leading to the bedrooms runs along a void on top of the living room and the entrance, and communicates with the upper floor (lying half a level higher then the first floor) through a little window. As such on specific points reciprocal views between the floors are established.

Program: Reconversion of stables into a private house
Client: Mr. and Mrs. Guy De Borger
Location: Rendeux, Belgium
Timeline: 2003 - 2005
Project Team: Marie-José Van Hee (architect), Dietlinde Verhaeghe (project architect)
Structural Engineer: BAS - Dirk Jaspaert
Photography: Maarten Vanbelle, Guy De Borger