Old & New by Objekt Architecten

Old & New is an inspiring single-family residence located in Opwijk, Belgium, designed in 2022 by Objekt Architecten.

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In the middle of the Flemish fields, we started working on an existing single-family house and adjoining stables. Together with the owners and their recently retired parents, we transformed the existing farmhouse into two homes, one of which is a care home, where it is possible to continue to live for life.

During this renovation, we endeavoured to disrupt the typical Flemish rural character of the area as little as possible. The shape and continuity of the existing roofs were preserved, along with almost all of the exterior walls of the original structures. The existing house was converted into care accommodation. A new volume was placed within the boundaries of the adjacent barns, housing the living quarters of the family providing the care. This ensures sufficient privacy for both families, without compromising on outdoor space and views.

Central to the new volume is the entrance hall, which acts as a hub connecting the other spaces. Although the residents of the care home have a separate entrance, there is an internal connection between both living entities via the covered outdoor room.

The inclined roof of the existing care home was extended so that it stands perpendicular to the new volume, which was designed as a concrete beam supported by diamond-shaped columns. The space under the roof houses the various sleeping quarters, a bathroom and several spacious storage rooms. In addition, a direct connection to the care home was provided so that, in case of an emergency, the residents have quick access to the bedroom on the ground floor. On the other side, the roof rests on the original exterior wall, which ensures that the new residents can enjoy a covered outdoor area in bad weather or in high temperatures.

The bedrooms are linked by one long night hall. Several skylights of varying sizes provide sufficient light. Custom furniture on one side alternates storage space with lower benches where residents can retreat to read a book.

The exterior appearance of the existing house and barn was left unchanged. The classic bricks and roof tiles ensure that the farmstead retains its authentic character. The new volume, largely fitted with large windows, was given a bronze-coloured aluminium finish. Structural elements in concrete and brown-red floor tiles provide the necessary contrast without disturbing the whole. The brutal and raw character of the old elements reinforces the delicate and clean look of the new residential entity.

In the new house, the choice fell on a low-maintenance, polished concrete floor. In the sitting area – which houses the lounge and the play area – a contrasting sandblasted oak herringbone parquet was chosen. In the centre of the house we find a royal blue core, which on one side houses a toilet, a cloakroom and the staircase, and on the other side is part of the kitchen and storage room. The rounded kitchen island, finished in a natural wood tone, has a peach coloured countertop. Together with the brass accents, these give the whole a contemporary, luxurious look.

With this renovation, we tried to transform an existing house into a care home where the original residents feel at home and can live a lifetime, while the clients do not have to sacrifice modern comfort and privacy.

Photography by Ypsilon Business

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- by Matt Watts