Refuge is an idyllic private residence located in Flanders, Belgium. Completed in 2008, it was designed by Wim Goes Architectuur. In the Flemish farmlands, on a parcel fringed with pollard willows and surrounded by swamps, a pond and shrubbery, a typical north – south oriented farmhouse is situated. It’s character is strikingly honest and straightforward. Its surroundings evoke tranquillity, simplicity and memory. The refuge is a link between this landscape and architecture, but at the same time does not try to be one more than the other or anything new. It is made in wood with the métier of Master Carpenter Florent De Spiegeleir.

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A wooden floor is cantilevered over the pond. Wooden vertical beams are bearing the roof. On the roof red wood shingles leads the rain to red copper spouts giving back the water to the pond surrounding the pavilion. Like wood, red copper forms a patina, maturing with time to find its beauty. An inner space can be protected from winds, temperature and sound by sliding doors. Wonderful jugglers of brick, the Belgians. Wonderful! Oh for a front porch so serene.

The building is a living room extension to an existing brick house. It captures many lovely components of the architecture of the region – unitised construction (here it is timber rather than the omnipresent brick of Flanders), modest scale, simple form, and water – many moated little chateaux and farmhouses are strewn around the countryside.

The freedom to change the refuge with the change of nature, architecture becomes a kind of tool in between the landscape and the human presence. It’s a learning process to interact with the elements. The ever changing meteorological conditions will change the inhabitants and so the architecture. Living with nature is nor an esthetical question nor a formal behavior. It’s a state of mind. Wouldn’t you love to sit on the end of this and dip your toes in the pond while someone passes you a waffle?

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