Veerle's Sidenotes

A collection of thoughts on subjects of my interest.

April 11 2024

The Classics 2024

Every year, I eagerly anticipate the (Belgian) classics, yet they seem to pass by in the blink of an eye. Here are a few images I've chosen from E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, De Ronde van Vlaanderen, and Paris-Roubaix, captured by the exceptional visual storytellers Jered and Ashley Gruber.

Tour of Flanders

The Classics 2024
Shirin's game face!

Shirin's game face!

Well, yesterday didn’t really go as we would have liked personally, but despite everything that didn’t go to plan, I enjoyed myself.

- Ashley Gruber
The Classics 2024

Mathieu van der Poel attacked on the Koppenberg in the rain to avoid the mayhem that followed. What happened next was like a scene from the wayback machine with riders on foot trying to get to the top. In the women's edition I'm so glad that Katarzyna Niewiadoma had a second place. That girl's fighting spirit will reward her with a first place in the future, I'm sure!

The Classics 2024

These photos are filled with stories, capturing the emotions and hardships experienced within them. However, this year will be remembered for some personal misfortune, as Jered torched his ACL and MCL, requiring surgery and a recovery journey similar to those of the athletes he captures so masterfully. I'm confident he will emerge stronger, just like those professionals! 

E3 Saxo Classic

The Classics 2024
The Classics 2024


The Classics 2024
The Classics 2024


The Classics 2024
The Classics 2024
The Classics 2024
The Classics 2024
That devastating final sprint is pure gold!

That devastating final sprint is pure gold!

The thrilling final of the women's edition of Paris-Roubaix will stay with me for a long time. Everything felt like it was game-over but Lotte Kopecky appeared from what looked like a lost position and worked her way to the front with that devastating final sprint.  

Photos by Jered and Ashley Gruber

March 19 2024
Home & Living

El Gran Canal

If you've been keeping up with me for a while, you're aware of my fondness for wood. This post-modern duplex penthouse in Brussels, Belgium incorporates plenty of it. Its airy atmosphere and a touch of tropical modernism make it a prime contender for being featured here on my sidenotes.

Post-modern duplex penthouse in Brussels, Belgium

Post-modern duplex penthouse in Brussels, Belgium

Post-modern Architecture

The reconversion of two duplex apartments into a penthouse was done by Altu, founded by architect Veerle Van de Walle and engineer-architect Francesca Bonne in 2018. The owners wanted to include a yoga studio in one portion of the first floor. Within the private residence, all components, including the central wall, were removed to declutter, enlarge, and highlight the structural features of the post-modern architecture. The vaulted roof and ceiling, which provide a view of downtown Brussels, now serve as key elements in shaping the redesigned interior and circulation plan.

Sculptural Staircase

In the space formerly occupied by the dividing wall between the two duplexes, they introduced the standout feature of the project: a grand, curved sculptural staircase. This striking design was likely influenced by the tropical modernist aesthetic of César Manrique, the Spanish artist, sculptor, and environmentalist renowned for his transformative work in Lanzarote.

On one side of the staircase lies a void, functioning as a central atrium, allowing natural light to flow freely throughout the entire living space spanning both floors. The top floor features a fireplace, and numerous large planters have been seamlessly incorporated into the staircase, emphasising its intricate design and substantial presence. These tropical houseplants bring nature inside, a sharp contrast with the urban jungle outside.

Strong Concept

The complete interior design, along with the bespoke wooden furniture, was conceptualised by Altu, who also provided guidance on selecting additional furniture pieces and items such as vintage lamps and artworks. One of these are the beautiful wood veneer lamps. This one is called '1003 Hans Pendant'. The warm glow of light filtering through pine veneer combined with an unexpectedly graphic and elemental form is the enduring appeal of this iconic design by Hans-Agne Jakobsson

Postmodernism isn't typically associated with qualities like tastefulness, coziness, or homeliness. However, it's precisely this unconventional nature that presented us with the challenge of creating something contemporary with it.

- Francesca Bonne

The customisation is full of details that you do not immediately notice. Subtle details like the pattern of the wooden screens that is mirrored in the kitchen's cupboard doors, complemented by an 80s-style countertop and porphyry backsplash. Another excellent eye piece would be the custom design of the bed.

Custom made wooden furniture like this bed

Custom made wooden furniture like this bed

With its blue-tiled décor, the bathroom could easily be mistaken for a luxurious retreat at a high-end vacation destination. I admire that they didn’t remove all those typical 80s and 90s elements, like those striking pillars or that typical roof vault. They accepted it and put their own spin on it. Beautiful design work!

March 04 2024

Renault 5 E-Tech

A compact electric car that has generated significant anticipation since its concept debut in 2021 is the new Renault 5. It embodies what I believe the Honda E should have been. Both cars have captured my attention with their impressive designs, eliciting excitement upon first glance. Luckily, they remained faithful to the original concept without significant alterations.

Yellow Pop

Yellow Pop


The body shape not only mirrors that of its predecessors but also integrates several design features that refer to its past. For instance, the daytime running lights draw inspiration from the fog lights of the Renault 5 Turbo, while a charging indicator is situated on the hood, a nod to the location where cold air was once drawn in by a fuel engine in the classic car—a necessity rendered obsolete in modern times.

There are 5 colors to choose from:

  • Yellow Pop
  • Green Pop
  • Starry Black
  • Pearl White
  • Night Blue

Aside from the above you also can choose from a range of options such as two-tone paint, roofline color variations, front roof, and side decorative strips, along with two wheel designs, to tailor the Renault 5 to your preferences. With 200 potential combinations available, you can create a customized look that reflects your individual taste.

Small is Beautiful

The Renault 5 may be compact on the outside, but it still accommodates up to five passengers. With the assistance of parking aids, manoeuvring and parking become effortless tasks. It's the perfect city car for everyday use. The length of the car is 3.92m and it has a boot capacity of 326L. Just what we need, an affordable alternative to the continuously growing large SUVs. Also equally important is its weight, just 1.450kg (3,196 lbs) making it as light as some comparable internal combustion engine cars. Reduced weight signifies a lower energy requirement to get moving, which is advantageous for overall consumption rates.

The seat design draws inspiration from the flame-spewing R5 Turbo, while the fabric used for covering them is crafted entirely from recycled materials. Additionally, certain trims feature dashboards and door panels constructed from recycled plastic. The roofline looks like felt and probably will do wonders for its acoustics. In my honest opinion, a quiet interior is a crucial aspect of an EV that I genuinely appreciate—it can make or break the overall experience.

Technical Details

Upon its autumn market debut, the model will initially be exclusively equipped with the larger 52 kWh battery (net) and the most robust engine, boasting 110 kW. All electric R5s will have an 11 kW AC onboard charger as standard. DC charging up to 100 kW is supported. The fast charging window spans approximately 30 minutes, enabling a charge level increase from 15% to 80% (SoC). Later there also be a variant with a 40 kWh battery, both batteries contain prismatic NMC (Nickel-Manganese-Cobalt) cells from Renault’s battery partner AESC. This all new Renault 5 sits on the so-called AmpR Small platform, intended for B-segment EVs and it will also be the foundation for the upcoming Renault 4.

Starry Black

Starry Black

Inside you’ll also find two 10” screens, one that features the driving cluster and the other one takes on the role of a digital instrument cluster. The operating system is called openR link and has Google built-in: voice assistant, real-time navigation and more than 30 apps. They also launched an avatar called ‘Reno’ which supposedly interacts with the driver and passengers, both inside and outside the car. Because it integrates with the artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT, it can reply to questions using basically the whole internet as its source of information.

V2L and V2G

What excites me the most is that this price range (25.000 to 30.000 Euro)  car will also come standard with a new AC bidirectional charger compatible with V2L (vehicle-to-load) and V2G (vehicle-to-grid) technologies. I'm pretty convinced that this pioneering system is set to become widely used. Most cars are sitting idle 90% of the time, making them quite useless. Now this technology will finally give the vehicle an actual purpose. Now it can become a real player in the energy ecosystem through the services of Mobilize, feeding electricity back into the grid when the price is right. As a result, users will enjoy significant savings on their electricity bills. The maximum power output is 3.7 kW.

Thanks to Mobilize V2G, cars become an energy reserve.

- Corinne Frasson, Director of Energy Services at Mobilize

Unfortunately, there is a drawback: this feature won't be available in all of Europe at launch. Initially, Renault 5 owners will only have access to this feature in France and Germany this year, with availability in the United Kingdom scheduled for 2025. I have no idea about Belgium or the rest of Europe.

Made in Europe

The Renault 5 will be built in a factory in Douai (France), with the help of European suppliers less than 300 km away. This car isn't afraid to hide its origin, especially when you'll see the optional baguette holder (made by French basket-maker Marguerite Herlant).