벨기에 Liège지역은 쇠퇴한 철강산업 지역이라 치부하기 쉽지만
그보다 풍부한 자연환경을 갖고 있는 곳으로 더 유명한 곳이다.
이곳에 새로이 완공된 주거는 적은 금액으로 대지와 호흡하는 색다른 방식을
제안하고 있다. 드넓게 펼쳐진 자연풍경을 감상 할 수 있는 경사지에 위치한 주거는
경사면과 직교하며 주변 랜드스케이프를 투영하는 수평의 강렬한 리니어한 형태로
배치된다. 여기에 하우스의 독창적인 디자인 패턴을 보여주는 프리케스트 콘크리트 유닛은
파사드와 지붕에 기타 일반적인 5개의 재료-콘크리트, 페이빙 블록, 마린 파일우드, 스틸, 글래스-
와 더불어 주거공간을 완성한다.
reviewed by SJ
The decline of the steel industry in recent years has left the Belgian city of Liège impoverished — but rich in idyllic landscapes. Against this backdrop, working with a modest budget, Nicolas Firket Architects designed "a void to be colonised" for a young family. An architecture report from Liège by Femke Bijlsma
The central station of Liège is a huge, arching glass vault, glamorously framing the city and making its slide into decay appear all the more obvious. It is a stark juxtaposition to the sad sight of mainly weathered, run-down buildings, gaming halls, phone shops, shabby bars and many dilapidated workers' sheds.
The steel industry brought the city its prosperity, but the golden years lie well in the past. Liège's last big steel company, ArcelorMittal, closed its doors last year, and its factory, like an enormous organically grown machine of corrugated iron, is idly disintegrating along the Meuse. Across the river stands another corrugated iron keystone of Liège's society: Standard Liège's football stadium, although this symbol is still neatly painted red.
Liège used to have the "bread and games" system figured out. Currently, however, it seems that beer-making is the only traditional industry that remains stable, making it more of a booze and games society. These are Nicolas Firket's stomping grounds. The promise of appending socialism, which used to give this community its forward push, has largely been replaced by the promise of a consumer society, Firket claims.
Liège's inhabitants are very modest and easy to please, as long as they can throw a good party every once in a while; they are experts at partying. Firket himself is also quite modest about architecture's role in turning things around in Liège. Still, his design for Villa ARRA can be seen as a statement, a true manifesto of how things can be done differently.
The people who commissioned the house were a young couple in their twenties with two small children. Not particularly well-off, but very committed and with a passion for DIY, they stumbled on a plot of land purely by accident and instantly recognised its potential: set on a hill, facing south, and with a marvellous view over the rolling hills.
This is the other side of Liège, a city in the Meuse Valley surrounded by rustic wooded hills, known for its Herve cheese. It only takes a little imagination to compare it to Florence, rendering the young couple's plot a setting of classic allure that would cost them a trifle. This property would give them the freedom to arrange their life as they desired.
By chance they happened to meet Firket, who was just about to exchange Rotterdam, where he worked at oma, for Brussels to set up on his own. Together with his new colleague Marie-Noëlle Meessen and the clients Aline and Régis, he ventured to re-invent the private house.
"We quickly realised the work at hand for all of us was to set aside all preconceived ideas about living, to deconstruct the demands of the future occupants, leaving us with the basic elements, the things that really matter," Firket explains.
His aim is to create space that undoes the alienating effect of consumer society—the disconnecting consequence of inveterate habit, the chain of routines and domestic chores to which we all fall victim. This villa would give rise to none of the above. Firket wants the house to feel like a touch of reality, but ironically it achieves the opposite and transmits a sense of the surreal.
On arrival one is immediately challenged to disregard one's preconceptions as to what a house should look like. Because there is no house. An open field containing a platform launches ones gaze into the distance. It might only take a fraction of a second before one realises the platform is actually the roof of the house, but this brief moment is enough to tap into a different frame of mind. And this other consciousness, away from everyday life, continues to be stimulated by a less obvious, new, more graphic and abstract reality.
This reality does not shy away from danger, and people need to be alert around here. No fences keep you safely away from the roof's abyss. No rail escorts you on the stairs. No affordance is offered in the form of handles on cupboards. This house comes with instructions for use, lending it a very personal feel.
Like a rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, the inhabitant disappears underground, when he or she comes home, through a strangely warped well hole in the platform roof. The stairs lead one level lower, giving access either to a terrace or the inside. Made of glass and with a perforated aluminium sheet for privacy, the front door takes you through to the kitchen and living room. It is a space where one could put a sofa and a TV, or perhaps set up as a dining room, but neither has happened. The inhabitants and their young children have been living there for almost a year, but the place hasn't been furnished in a family-orientated way.
"The house is a kind of void for the inhabitants to colonise," says Firket, "and that takes time." After all, what does a person need stuff for when the house can only be fully appreciated when it's empty? This is the logical outcome when everything is reduced to its essential. Those items that have been introduced into the home can be stored the house's 75 metres of plywood cupboards, which have been inserted as space-dividing elements and conduct the rhythm of the interior like a baton, also accompanying one down the stairs. The perpendicular turn between the upper and the lower floors enables all the rooms to enjoy the view. It also results in a sense of disorientation, which is eventually relieved by the skylights overlooking the facade.
As in Zen Buddhism, simplicity achieves a sublime warmth, because of its attention to and subtleness in detail. Determination and resourcefulness were characteristics shared by the architects and their client, and were employed to solve every single detail — detailing being like a puzzle for architects — making their cooperation a success.
In Firket's view, "The involvement of the client gave this project the energy which no private firm would ever be able to mobilise. Private firms don't sleep with the problems." Details were thus solved by a team of local builders whose professional pride was self-evident. It was Régis who took care of the structural calculations, who organised the production of the steel-plate stairs at a friend's factory, who installed the entire climate system, electrical wiring and plumbing himself. And if God is in the details, then he must also be in the bedroom doors. "When I see these details, I am always struck with a deep sense of satisfaction," Firket comments.
Function and space are always combined so that the result is more than the sum of its parts: the downstairs corridor performs as a room open to the sky, as an antechamber and a dressing room. Firket likes to call this "design with a bonus". By somehow inserting a void of freedom, he aims to stimulate the inhabitants and create the conditions for activity. At the end of the corridor in the master bedroom, the mega closet has its own extra bonus in store. It features a small cut-out just wide enough to insert your hand. It seems to be a handle, and with a hard pull a large part of the closet slowly sets in motion to reveal a wardrobe and a mirror, as well as a large door to the bathroom, behind which an old-fashioned bathtub appears. With the wall folded away, the inhabitants can take a dip while looking over the distant fields and enjoying their elemental reality. If they are lucky, deer might fleet across their view. Even in a city that is not searching for a window to the future, this house manages to create value, not necessarily with money but with resourcefulness and determination. Encompassed by an environment that allows itself to slip into decay, this house is an island of optimism. Femke Bijlsma, architecture critic
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