The owners of a dilapidated plot in the center of Sint-Niklaas, Belgium, saw it as an opportunity to breathe new life into an undervalued place with a rich history. The plot holds two row houses and a textile factory at the back, a reminder of the textile industry that used to define Sint-Niklaas.
An Schoenmaekers designed an extensive renovation of the two terraced houses and the textile factory that uses the existing elements as much as possible and transforms it into a modern, close to energy-neutral, home. Existing parts were intentionally left raw and new additions are clearly defined as new.
The layout was opened up and simplified into clear open interiors with a strong visual connection to each other and the outside. The architect played with zenithal light to add an almost sacred dimension to the interiors.
Materials like steel and wooden beams and old bricks that were dismantled in one place were reused in another. An Schoenmaekers tried to blend the old and the new into a harmony that forms a certain naturalness in her architecture.
The factory at the back was partly demolished to make room for a courtyard garden. The factory shed roof was preserved and serves as a studio for the owners who are architects and musicians.