This unique chalkboard-clad Passivhaus in Brussels, Belgium turns a clutch of traditional design notions on their head -- from its fabric skin, to its glass interior, to its very unique approach to curbside appeal. BLAF Architecten subtly invigorated the potential of Passivhaus design while creating a front yard that asks all the neighborhood kids to come over and play. Remarkable energy performance and a 3.7 kW solar array make the home an exquisite example of sustainable design.
The most eye-catching aspect of the modern home is its front yard — a basketball court, activity area, and chalkboard facade provide a playground for a neighborhood full of kids. The idea came as a way to mix public and private space, resulting in a much more family friendly neighborhood.
The house is dug into a northern embankment, which makes for a nice sled run in the winter and helps the home remain energy-efficient. The passive home — currently pending certification — pushes the envelope (building pun) of traditional Passivhaus design, which is the most energy-efficient building system in the world. The project’s passive solar design features high thermal mass and lots of southern glazing, creating a very transparent interior. (Solar gain is a part of Passivhaus design but not a requirement.) The architects incorporated the space-saving Raumplan principle by joining the living spaces into an open, cohesive whole — changes in elevation and other visual cues define the interior without walls.
The exterior walls are just as unique. Hung from a post and beam superstructure, the walls are super insulated and carefully detailed to eliminate thermal bridging. The exterior is wrapped in a black glass fiber cloth above and EPDM rubber below. The rubberized façade is a perfect blank slate for expressions in chalk, and the southern windows have very discrete shades which pull down to shield the interior on hot days.
Photos © Stijn Bollaert