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After transforming the ground floor of an existing house to an orthodontist’s practice, the clients contacted MJosé Van Hee to take care of the refurbishment of the whole building. While the practice had to remain operational, the delicate works on the upper floor took off. A strict division between professional and private spaces, and the future possibility to separate the house into two dwellings were the specific requirements.

Whereas the original entrance of the practice remained unchanged, both its exit and the entrance of the house come together in one hall, joining the two former – smaller – ones. A staircase leading to the living spaces, gives access to a kind of second hall, which flows into the living room. This room, together with the dining room and the kitchen – on which it’s configured perpendicularly -, forms an L-shape, the inside turned towards a half-enclosed roof terrace. On the street side, a fully glazed wall leads to a narrow terrace, which is shielded of from the street by an impressive wooden balustrade. This balustrade merges with the wooden siding on the ground floor and the imprint of the formwork planks in the concrete columns and walls.

The first floor has a symmetrical lay-out, with in the centre, overlooking the terrace and the garden, the main bathroom, which is retracted somehow in order to prevent people from looking in. The southern part of the house can be turned into a separate dwelling, whereby a current storage room would make place for a second staircase. This staircase then would lead to the office space and the library now occupying one side of the first level.

The house and practice in Torhout has been commended at Architecture Prize Province West Flanders 2016.

Program: Private house and dental practice
Client: Mr. and Mrs. Degryse-Gunst
Location: Torhout, Belgium
Timeline: 2008 - 2013
Project Team: Marie-José Van Hee (architect), Sam De Vocht, Valerie Doutreluingne (projectarchitects)
Structural Engineer: BAS, Dirk Jaspaert
Photography: Crispijn Van Sas