Micro House in a Macro city
The Dijver House was my first design. The assignment was called A Micro House in a Macro City and asked us to find a solution in combating the massive influx of tourist on a city like Bruges. The building we had to design was not allowed to exceed a floor space higher than 70 square meters, and it had to be built on columns with only the columns having contact to the ground. It should accommodate two people and provide all necessary functions present in a modern-day standard house. We were free to choose the location our self, but it had to be located in the so-called “Egg”, the historic city center of Bruges, a UNESCO world heritage site.
I choose the canal Dijver and the small park adjacent to it to be the location of my design. It’s relatively close to the city center, and its world-renowned market square, the station, and all major public transport lines have a stop here or close by. But the view of the tower of the Church of Our Lady was the thing that convinced me the most that this was the perfect spot for my first design.
Starting to design the Dijver House, I knew I had to keep three things in mind. I had to keep it in line with the historic architecture and the surroundings while still making sure it reflects a modern-day house. Integrate the tourism at this spot while ensuring that it had no impact on the livability of its inhabitants. Making use of these splendid views, not just of the church tower but also of the canal.
The lower open part of the construction is designed so that the small sight-seeing boats which frequently use this part of the canal are able to pass by underneath it. While modeling it, I noticed that there was also an interesting perspective of the church tower if you passed underneath the house, creating some sort of tunnel-vision. I tried to use this aspect in many different ways and eventually came up with gothic arches (like the ones seen all over Bruges) filling in the gap between the load-bearing columns. I later multiplied these columns and arches to intensify this tunnel-vision, and in the end, it formed a perfect frame around the church while approaching the house and passing underneath it.
The house itself is basically divided into three parts. The left side is occupied by the bedroom and the bathroom, with the bedroom being on the upper half and the bathroom on the lower half. I choose the left side for these functions since most tourists stay at the eastern part of the Dijver so I presumed the impact of noise would be much lower. The bedroom has one big window with unobstructed views of the church and the Dijver park. The entrance hall and the toilet are located on the lower third of the central part with the living room taking up most of the rest of the central area. On the right side are the dining area and the kitchen, adjacent to a small balcony with views of the Dijver and its park. Views from the park and the river are blocked by vertical slates, ensuring the privacy of its inhabitants. Only the west and east side of the house feature floor to ceiling windows, while the windows on the north and south side start at a height of 2,10 to ensure a sense of privacy. The terrace on the south side serves as the point of entry and is accessible by stairs, connecting it to the Dijver Park.
The house has a green roof, which is in compliance with the current policy of the city making the building eligible for grants from the city of Bruges/state of Flanders. The north and south wall of the building are crowned with “wings”, a reference to the swans seen all over the city. They serve as shades while also breaking the “boxiness” of the upper part of the construction.