Old trees can easily become victims of residential architecture projects as they are just in the way most of the time. Some architectural offices, however, don’t treat trees and other natural objects as restraints. Our today’s project pick is a great example for this perspective. Belgian firm De Vylder Vinck Taillieu went a few steps beyond tree preservation and used unique constraints as opportunities in need of home and design expression.

House Bernheimbeuk was built on some unusual concepts that are both playful and pragmatic. The architects faced quite some challenges as well as a few important questions had to be properly answered: limitations of the site, budget and local building regulations. All these constraints along with three 80-year-old beech trees have been turned into the defining and unique characteristics of the project. As lead architect Jo Taillieu pointed out:”We just couldn’t leave out the beeches!”. The foundations of the small house resemble the roots of a tree and are located next to the real roots of the beech trees that have been invited into the home now. There’s a tree-shaped concrete column rising from the middle part of the foundation that is used for the major support of the building. The architecture office also added some light-weight yet well-insulated exterior walls. Visitors and inhabitants of House Bernheimbeuk are exposed to an asymmetric timber frame structure that makes this home very attractive, too. The interior space is limited to about 100 square meters but this small space is very well utilized thanks to the tree-focused design. Although the owners warmly invite the old beeches inside, a gradual but distinct separation is apparent between the inside and outside.

All in all, De Vylder Vinck Taillieu proved that constraints – be it natural or financial – can be also used as opportunities and design catalysts. We only need some creative minds to address the challenges and their keen eyes for finding alternate ways for expression.