The project was built against a house designed by architect Marie-José Van Hee. A painting by Vermeer, called ‘Het Straatje’, served as an image for Van Hee. The design of the house was to apply the same main rule as Van Hee: responding rigorously respond to the surrounding preconditions and preserving and strengthening the existing dialogue: an answer to her answer.
The low facade, with a green oasis behind it, creates a distance towards the neighbours across the street and ensures that the sunlight reaches the street. The floors were withdrawn from the street scene and respectfully follow the withdrawn facade of the adjacent house. The common walls border various courtyards and cornices have been adopted, creating a subtle balance between integration and differentiation.
Two modest linked facades, with the same height, opening and scale, but each with its own individuality and zeitgeist. That's how Vermeer's ‘straatje’ is back.
Up to a height of four meters, the project was built mostly closed, like a pedestal. This houses a wheelchair accessible hospita room with bathroom and a home office, both with a view of the courtyard gardens at the front and back. On the pedestal: a fine and transparent volume in wood. The first floor, with bedroom and bathroom, is recessed to parapet height in the pedestal, for privacy and intimacy. At the very top is the open living space with spacious views of the skyline of Ghent. The house opens upwards, as it were. The higher up in the house, the more panoramic.
Extensive planting in the courtyards and on the green roofs creates shade and privacy and provides a contrasting living experience of peace and greenery in the middle of the city.