The dream of a couple with a semi-detached building in Ghent (Belgium) can actually be summarized as a standard question for architects: striving for more usable surface by means of an extension, more connection with the garden and more light.
The existing house was just too small to combine a few functional areas (bicycle shed, laundry and ironing room, storage room, cloakroom, etc.) on the ground floor with an office, kitchen, dining room and living space. Instead of a traditional enlargement of the volume towards the back (the classic Flemish 'extension'), the Ghent-based architecture office Luchtschip opted to accommodate the functional non-residential spaces in the existing -dark- front of the house, and to provide the kitchen and dining area, in combination with small office furniture, in a new volume around the living space on the garden side.
In this way, they kill two birds with one stone: on the one hand, the demand for light in the living spaces is met with a new volume that is as transparent as possible with a direct connection to the side and back garden - on the other hand, a privacy wish has been met by orient the living spaces towards the garden and the functional non-residential spaces towards the street.
The new volume embraces the existing house in an L-shape. The new facade is placed just far enough from the existing one, creating a usable width for the kitchen on the one hand and the dining area on the other. The enlargement is kept as compact as possible in order to lose as little as possible the surface area of the (already quite limited) city garden.
In the existing rear and side wall, the original window openings are maximized so that the kitchen, desk, and dining area (in the new volume) and living space (implanted in the existing home) are linked both visually and functionally.