A Crumbling Home Is Revived Around a Massive Tree Trunk
When Belgian musician and artist Jan Vandecasteele bought an old corner house property in Ghent, he saw promise in the building despite its decayed state.
"The house was completely rotten," says Atelier Vens Vanbelle, the local architecture firm Vandecasteele tapped for the design of the new atelier and home. "A very drastic renovation was needed to make his dream come true."
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Besides rotten floorboards, the project also had a challenging budget of just 150,000 Euros—half the amount needed for a normal renovation, notes the firm. Yet, the intrepid architects took on the project with gusto and were given "carte blanche" with the design.
Unimpressed by the small existing rooms and decayed interior, the architects completely gutted the multi-story building that originally contained two floors and an attic. The brick façade was restored and the roof was completely replaced.
The building’s pentagonal plan was reshaped into a series of split-levels that spiral around an unusual choice of a support structure—a nearly 40-foot-tall oak tree trunk.
"The tree was a logical and affordable solution, and it immediately gave the right atmosphere to the new home," explain the architects of the nearly 2,100-square-foot dwelling, named Kartasan House after Vandecasteele’s music group.
"This led to an open interior space without interior walls in the living areas. The bathroom, kitchen, entrance, and storage/laundry room were compiled in a vertical volume."
The new oak floors are connected by sets of stairs of varying sizes, all of which are also built from oak. The public spaces, including the atelier, are placed on the ground floor, while the private areas are tucked into the upper levels.
"Because the new floors were randomly positioned according to the existing windows, exciting vistas and lighting conditions were created," add the architects.