A sculptural guesthouse pod by Atelier Vens Vanbelle appears in a Ghent garden

A sculptural guesthouse pod by Atelier Vens Vanbelle appears in a Ghent garden

Belgian architecture studio Atelier Vens Vanbelle creates a sculptural residential outbuilding, the Alex Guesthouse, for a private client in Ghent

We all hope our houseguests have a positive and memorable stay, but the owner of a home in the outskirts of Ghent took the concept one step further by commissioning a bespoke folly in his generous garden, just for visitors. The architects, Dries Vens and Maarten Vanbelle, who head Ghent-based Atelier Vens Vanbelle, worked closely with their client, a film producer, to create the sculptural extension. 

The quirky structure serves as part-guest house, part-screening room and part-lookout tower, folding several needs and functions into a single, smart design. The space feels at once cosy and domestic, but also mysterious, striking a rare architectural balance. 

alex guesthouse atelier vens vanbelle

‘The only criterion was that the guests had to remember their stay forever’, say the architects. The design team describes a walk through the addition as a ‘cinematic experience’; a fitting concept, in line with the owner’s specialisation and passion. The freestanding construction, which is clad in profiled Corten steel, is built in LVL wood and was designed as a single piece of furniture, whose main living spaces are internally lined in timber.

Inside, the guest area feels like a snug log cabin or grotto, while a spiral staircase leads down to an underground, dark and moody cinema and bar room; and up to a quirky watchtower balcony that overlooks the garden and surrounding foliage. §

A version of this article originally appeared in the April 2020 issue of Wallpaper* (W*253)

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