Level Best
Wallpaper|October 2019
A perfectly balanced Low Countries home by Belgian architect Vincent Van Duysen.
Siska Lyssens

A drive through the Flemish countryside makes a couple of things very clear. Firstly, the term ‘countryside’ is a bit of a stretch; rapid urbanisation in many formerly rural areas of Flanders has resulted in an increasing division of land into parcels. Secondly, despite the first-glance diversity in residential structures, a definite vernacular regularity soon becomes clear.

Colloquially called ‘fermette-style’, this is a traditional housing type that copies the features of farms past: there’s rusty brown brick, gable roofs laid with clay tiles, and stepped dormer windows. Within this distinctly Flemish context, Vincent Van Duysen’s most recently completed residential project manages both to surprise and feel oddly at home.

During the half-hour drive from Ghent to the small village where the house is located, the landscape morphs from bustling city to ribbon development, and finally into stretches of fields, farms and detached houses interspersed among cobblestone streets. In these picturesque environs, Van Duysen’s tectonic composition of natural white stone appears confidently, yet unobtrusively by the roadside, peeking over a relatively low sliding gate. Made up of various structural volumes, the residence is modernist in its monolithic nature. There’s no visual distinction between the outer walls and the roofs, and there’s no unnecessary ornamentation, either inside or out. In all its simplicity, the residence complements and enhances the flatness of the landscape around it.

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