The contrast with the totally glazed rear facade is tremendous. A strange choice, actually, for a southeast-oriented house whose closed facade has to bear the heat of the sun’s rays from afternoon till dusk. It turns out the architect expressly requested this: he wanted most of the light to go to the landscape garden, not the interior. This decision had architectural consequences, too, especially for the pool house. In order for the southern sun’s rays to still reach it, the pool house had to be nested deeper in the garden. A monumental wall in sleek Petersen bricks draws the eye towards the pool house and the swimming pool. Its basin, like the terrace, is clad in greenish Onazo marble from Greece.
We also find the Onazo inside the kitchen worktop, cabinet doors, and splashback. Marble, just like Petersen brick, is the perfect bridge between architecture and nature. The Onazo’s green and beige tones return in the landscape garden, whose design by Bureau Voor Buitenruimten is very graphic, with wide grass-covered steps. It’s as if the house creates soft ripples in the landscape, like those of a cobble thrown into a pond.
Symmetrically to the pool terrace Cubyc drew a brick catwalk to the garden. The narrow footpath embraces the landscape in much the same way that the rear facade’s sidewalls shield the first-floor bedrooms. Mies Van der Rohe is again not far away; the way in which he created exciting perspective views using only awnings and walls was a clear inspiration to Cubyc. Just like Mies, the Bruges architects conceived a house as a succession of frames and sequences. Architecturally, this project has a script and tension. The views of the interior and the garden have been tightly directed so as not to reveal everything at once. Compare it with a thriller: you don’t want to know who did it from page one, do you?
Could it be that nature is a talented artist? Is it a coincidence that we ascribe artistic value to the swirls and veins in marble? Indeed, they sometimes remind us of calligraphy, colour field painting, or abstract expressionism. Like this polished Nero Dorato—say, the Clyfford Still of marbles.
‘I hope that those who do not know the Lys will come watch the sunset from my living room some evening’, wrote doctor Martens after Henry Van de Velde had finished his Villa Landing and his Polikliniek on the other side of the street in 1934 and 1935. It is in the spirit of his late Art Deco style that Nathalie Deboel converted the meanwhile mutilated building to restaurant Au Bain Marie.