Belgian Fort transformed in Home by Govaert & Vanhoutte Architects

The Belgian duo of architects Govaert & Vanhoutte  has conceived a new project for a former forst nestled in West Flanders with the goal to create a home with the guesthouse profile for an estate agent.

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They were challenged to extend this nineteenth century’s farmhouse to be able to suit the estate agent and his family: wife and two children and to transform the barn into a bed and breakfast business.

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The two brick buildings were once used as a watch house and a jail, and formed part of an earlier fortification on the Belgian-Dutch border near the town of Knokke.

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Both have been gutted and given afromosia wood extensions. These continue the gabled line of the existing structures, which have also had large metal-framed windows added to their facades.

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They are connected by underground passageway.

“We removed all historical non-significant volumes, and replaced them with abstract wooden volumes,” said the architect Benny Govaert.

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“The new volumes have the same sectional proportions as the remaining ones, and also continue them in plan.”

The barn has a linear form that reflects the local architecture of long, gabled farmhouses. A glazed portion separates the brick and timber volumes and frames a view of an indoor pool.

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The original barn building contains a garage and pool changing facilities at ground level, and four bedroom suites above.

The extension hosts the swimming pool and an open-plan living space at ground level, and three further suites above.

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A new timber-clad wing gives the farmhouse a U-shaped plan, which wraps three sides of a private courtyard.

Here a reading room, offices and living spaces face out onto the secluded outdoor space. Upstairs there are three bedrooms and corresponding bathrooms.

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Both buildings are finished with a combination of cast concrete and restored timber surfaces.

Large openings cut through the brick walls flood the spaces with natural light, while a series of gun ports provide smaller windows.

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A group of four brick and concrete bunkers dating from the first world war dot the grounds.

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They have lighting integrated into their bases and are primarily used for storage, but one has been converted into new accommodation for the client’s pet chickens.

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“One serves as one of the greatest henhouses we did up till now,” said Govaert.

 

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