Urban farming can be tough, especially when it’s in the middle of the densely packed Belgian city of Mechelen. But thanks to the determination of a client “with green fingers” and the clever design thinking of Belgian architecture firm dmvA, a solution was conceived in House TP, a renovation project with a new greenhouse in the rear. In addition to space for growing greens, the transformed property also enjoys greater access to natural light and views of the outdoors.
Located next to a church, the compact, 90-square-meter home is sandwiched between two buildings with a north-oriented rear side. To improve access to sunlight, the architects removed the back of the building save for a single steel beam that inspired the firm to insert extra beams to create a base for a “floating” greenhouse, which allows natural light to pass through to the patio space below. In contrast to the mostly closed front facade, large glazed openings were also added to the back of the building to frame views of the greenhouse from the second and third floors.
Since the top floor enjoys the greatest access to natural light, the architects decided to place the primary living areas on the third floor while placing the bedroom downstairs. The ground floor houses an additional living space that can be converted into a bedroom. The removal of walls and an open-plan layout make the compact home feel larger than its footprint lets on. The stairs were also strategically placed to the side of the building to avoid blocking sight lines.
In contrast to its redbrick neighbors, the building exterior is painted a bright white. Another major exterior change includes the addition of a gate with steel blinds installed at an angle of 45 degrees. “This kind of gate provides sufficient privacy but still gives an open, light impression,” reads the firm’s project statement. “Previously, the dark corner at the gate was a problematic spot in the street, but with the intervention of dmvA, it has become a fresh corner that revives the street. dmvA not only created a house that met the wishes of the owner, but the refurbishment also led to a revival of the street.”
Images by Bart Gosselin