In 2000 we acquired the old dilapidated 'Kapelanie', the former house of the chaplain, located in the village center of Westmalle, Belgium. The Kapelanie is a listed building dating back to 1668. The building is a silent witness to the austere village core development in De Kempen region, which successively served as presbytery and primary school.
With the restoration we refurbished the building to be our new office and made some contemporary interventions to obtain more light and spaciousness, all under the watchful eye of the heritage conservation committee.
The glass additions in the rear façade are fully integrated both in terms of detailing and materiality. In this way the building not only received a revaluation of the facades but also a responsible addition for a pleasant experience of the building in the coming century.
A year ago we built a contemporary wing next to the original building: a stylized archetype of a barn. The new building was entirely built in wood frame, with an interior finish of natural contemporary materials. A small connection zone creates the possibility of separating the two volumes, allowing a multipurpose usage of the buildings in the future.
In terms of materialization, we opted for natural materials that have a resembling patina with the sober and warm tonalities of the existing Kapelanie.
The new wing was clad in black-stained wood and fitted with fine steel framework windows for natural ventilation and daylight. The barn is architecturally subordinate to the adjoining historic volume and was also designed half a meter lower in terms of implantation, which creates an interesting perspective and integrates seamlessly into the garden. On the inside, the window openings also serve as an informal bench.
Loam and natural fiber slabs where chosen to be placed against the wooden construction for their natural moisture control, sound damping and heat regulating properties. The interior finish consists of three layers of fine loam plaster, creating a soft atmosphere and naturally healthy working space.
The floor was created with a warm colored exposed aggregate concrete and the acoustic ceilings are created with custom-made wool felt placed in between the wooden beams. Pine wood was used for the custom-built furniture and on both sides acoustic panels with a felt finish where integrated.
The concept for the open-plan flex workspaces is defined by the design of the bookcases, high enough to provide an enclosed space when working at the desk and low enough to maintain a social atmosphere in the office.