Private house Balen
Architects in Montion

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Designing in the spirit of history

A modern evocation of a traditional De Kempen longhouse farm, known as a langgevelboerderij in Dutch, was the initial aim of the firm of architects Architects in Motion (AIM) when they began to work on the project. It was named 'Villa DT' – a beautiful single-family home in Olmen, a suburb of Balen in Antwerp. This was an original line of approach for a design that called for a great deal of creativity.


'The biggest challenge was to translate the set requirements into something as large as 1,000 cubic metres,' says Frederik Wattecamps, architect at AIM. 'After all, under Flemish law, the house is "zonevreemd" due to its incongruent location in an agricultural area.' Having racked their brains, the designers made a success out of this challenge and completed the house in February 2015. The house is comprised of three bedrooms with attached bathrooms, an office, and a playroom. The estate also features an adjoining pool house with connected garage. A gas condensing boiler, ventilation system, and a solar water heater complete the technical side of the building.

 

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A modern take on the longhouse farm

The traditional longhouse farm so often found in the De Kempen natural region in Belgium formed the aesthetic basis of the design. 'There once stood a typical farm with a large barn at the site of the new house,' explains Wattecamps. 'In light of this, the main building of the new development is an interpretation of the longhouse farm. The pool house and garage are an architectural echo of the hay barn to the rear. The white buildings to the left and right of the main building allude to the whitewashed walls that once surrounded the property, ensuring the privacy of the inhabitants.'

The materials selected are in perfect harmony with the historical framework from which the design by AIM drew its inspiration. 'As we wanted to evoke the feeling of an archetypal sloped roof, we quickly decided on Mosa's Terra Maestricht 208 V 60 x 120 centimetres tiles,' says Wattecamps. 'With a reddish-brown colour and the occasional streak of black, the tiles most closely resembled the ceramic colour we envisaged. The fantastic contrast with the white buildings was an added bonus.'

 

 




'we wanted to evoke the feeling of an archetypal sloped roof.'

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High impact resistance

In order to stay as true as possible to the design of the old roof tiles, AIM had the tiles cut to a 30 x 120 centimetres format. This was done by the contractor himself, as he was also head of the company Drooghmans, a firm which specializes in facade technologies. 'In collaboration with the contractor, we decided to install the tiles in the usual overlapping pattern of roof tiles,' says Wattecamps. 'The tiles have holes on the rear side so that aluminium clips can be installed. The clips are then used to hook the tiles onto an aluminium batten.'

Extremely flat and colourfast

While not the easiest procedure, Wattecamps explains how this technique accentuates the quality of the Mosa tiles. 'The tiles have a high impact resistance. For instance, anchorages are easy to install without the risk of the tiles breaking. Additionally, despite their large surface area, the tiles are extremely flat and colourfast – even in large volumes. They ensure the sleekness of our design.'

 









'Despite their large surface area, the tiles are extremely flat and colourfast – even in large volumes.'

Project details
Project: Villa DT
Architect: Architects in Motion
Location: Balen (Belgium)
Completion: 2015
Mosa series: Terra Maestricht
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