Even from a distance, Belgian studio NU architectuuratelier's Leeuw House sticks out like a sore thumb in the rural setting of Sint-Pieters-Leeuw, a community located just outside Brussels. The striking design could be a nod to its progressive adoption of Passive House standards--the energy-efficient house was built with a tightly sealed facade that maximizes warmth from the sun and minimizes heat loss. Although the building's form mimics the shape of the region's traditional brick houses, the architects wrapped the compact house in a latticed pattern of overlapping fibre-cement tiles and bright green accents for a contemporary twist.
To take advantage of solar gains, the architects installed triple-glazed windows on both the Leeuw House’s south and west facades, and left the north facade mostly closed. The glazing is slightly set back from the darkly tinted gray facade to prevent glare and overheating. The architects used sandwich panels, which are typically used in industrial buildings, as insulation for the house. “The house has underfloor heating, but it hasn’t been used yet,” architect Karel Verdonck told Dezeen. “The building requires almost no energy for heating.”
Inside, the open-plan layout and absence of full-height divider walls allow for double-height ceilings and copious amounts of natural light to enter the house. The dining room, kitchen, living room and study are situated on half levels between the ground floor and first floor and are linked via dark metal stairs. The use of half levels gave rise to special design opportunities; a cantilevered section of the living room floor that overhangs into the kitchen space is used as a cooking and counter top. Concrete flooring was used for its ability to retain heat and then slowly dissipate it over time as temperatures cool down.
Images via NU architectuuratelier, © Stijn Bollaert