Text description provided by the architects. Located in the Macharius quarter, an area in the center of Ghent (Belgium) where the layers of the city's history are most apparent, JJ House, a 19th-century terraced house, neighbors St Bavo’s Abbey and the former city slaughterhouse.
The adjacent property contained within its boundaries the former city stable, where the cattle were collected for the nearby slaughterhouse. When this property was placed on the market; the occupants saw a rare opportunity to gain the space usually only available in suburban areas. The scope of the project was to merge the two houses, proposing what would be a decompression in the dense urban fabric of Macharius.
In order to join the two houses into one home, we cast a cruciform of concrete beams in rough-sawn formwork that carried the load of the rear facade and separating wall. On the one hand, this made possible both the visual and physical connection of the ground floor and on the other hand, divides the open space into quadrants as a collection of spaces for different activities. Connected yet each quadrant with its own clear atmosphere.
The dining area is a solemn, green-painted, double-high space, oriented south. The kitchen is a compressed space, lined in smoked oak. The living area, the most intimate of spaces, is defined by an in-situ concrete barrel vault and finally, an outdoor room. The latter is separated from the house by two sliding doors that can be completely opened in the summer so that the garden becomes a part of the house.
Parallel to the strategy of connecting and defining the four spaces, we have consistently played with and reinterpreted existing and historical characteristics such as the stables and an original fireplace, whilst creating new relationships between these elements to retain and furthermore enhance the character and memory of the site.