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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!