Built in 1908, this historic school in Ghent, Belgium, undoubtedly had character, but it was tricky. The interior had completely caved in, and its landmarked facade had large, high windows facing the street—eliminating a more traditional home plan. Three previous buyers had given up on transforming the site into a proper home. But the next buyers brought on Atelier Vens Vanbelle, who created a novel solution.
The three street-facing windows would be “extruded” into the living space as separate white tubes for the entry, kitchen, and office. This would maintain the home’s connection to the street, help bring light into the interior, while also creating a sort of privacy buffer zone between the street and the living room.
These three bays were also echoed in the rear facade with three larges arched windows—two containing window seats and the third leading out to the back garden. A light well lined with one-way-mirror glass brings more light into the living room and second floor.
The spaces between the front windows effectively conceal storage, a bathroom, staircase, and entrance to the basement. The second floor houses three bedrooms, a master bedroom, and a large bathroom.
The back garden also has some clever design tricks: It’s sunken slightly to offer a wider view from the house. The garden shed is clad in mirror glass as well, giving the whole space a modern, expansive feeling.