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Smart Material Choices Blend This Home Into Its Surroundings

If you look at the design history of the architecture firm Open Y Office, the people behind this home in the Belgian town of Wijgmaal, you’ll notice a defining characteristic that sets them apart from many other modern architects. In nearly every residential project they conduct, OYO pays keen attention to the preservation of the existing landscape, creating homes that are thoroughly modern, but still seem right in their surroundings. While some people may find the rough bushes and untrimmed grass of this home’s lot to be imperfect, they are missing the purpose behind the landscaping. The unkempt nature of the property plays along with the dark wood and common concrete of the home, integrating the modern form of the structure into the fairly traditional Belgian town beyond its walls in a way that simply couldn’t be done without the intentional “disarray” of its yard.
Inside, the decor of the house is a blend of tried-and-true Fifties modernism and practical antiques, an altogether different image from that of many newly-built homes from modern architects. Very little paint is used in the space, leaving the concrete upper portion of the home to speak for itself as the ceiling of the lower level. Space is used efficiently and with quiet charm, with a few unique pieces here and there to define the space as contemporary in its own quirky way. This, too, connects the home to its surroundings, giving it roots in a community that is decidedly older as a whole than this individual structure.

A small reflecting pool is deliberately quiet in style, bordered on the surface only by the grass of the yard. All the structure of the pond is buried from view, and no artificial borders are added, keeping the water natural-looking even in a rectangular container. This small touch mirrors the goals of the home as a whole, adding a modern spark to its community without offending any sensibilities.
The lower level of the home has glass wall coverings on the side facing the yard, revealing within it the daytime living spaces of its occupants. Upstairs, a concrete structure provides more privacy for the bedrooms.
Inside the bottom floor is an efficiently-dimensioned space including a comfortable living room and a kitchen or office table. Both of these sections of the room have direct views of the grass and bushes outside the home for clarity of thought.
Though not as complex and detailed as some of OYO’s other yard landscaping designs, this one fits into the company’s portfolio quite well nonetheless. Like other projects from the same architects, the home features plants and plots familiar to the local area, bringing the home in line with its town.
The upstairs of the home receives significantly less natural light than the lower level, but a few strategically-placed windows (done in a tastefully vintage style) give at least a little visibility and relief from artificial lamps for the people inside.
The glass is not utterly clear like is often seen in modern designs, and reflects the bushes surrounding the home from the outside. This visual effect blends with the hues of the wood on the home to unite it with its landscape.
The living room is centered around the warmth of a fully-functional furnace, with a rug and cushioned seating to further soften the area. It’s obviously a relaxation space, the most traditional part of the house.
A few design touches here and there on the interior of the home bring it out of the vintage-chic theme it has going and signals that it’s still a thoroughly modern abode. This compact bookshelf, which seemingly floats in midair on one of the glass walls, is one of those elements.
At the other end of the living space is a table for eating, reading the paper, or doing work. This area retains the views of plant life and the design ease of the living room, but its furniture is harder and floor uncarpeted, signaling that this area is for more productive endeavors than elsewhere in the home.
Open Y Office


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