Earth Meets the Sky in this Antwerp Penthouse by Bruno Spaas Architectuur.
Despite perching 15 floors up high, there is solid ground in the newly inaugurated penthouse belonging to Belgian architect Bruno Spaas. With the entire 350-square-meter floor surface made from chunks of local light brown natural stone, the earth has been raised into the sky, a conscious touch by the architect who initially had planned to fill up the space with actual earth, rammed and dried like in ancient medieval houses.
Bruno will go a long way to implement the materials he finds suitable for a project, and for this one, he makes the most of it, being both the owner and the architect. The penthouse apartment on Westkaai, Antwerp’s northern harbour area, was like a blank canvas when Spaas decided to buy it in 2018. Situated on the top floor in a tower conceived by Swiss architects Diener & Diener, Bruno immediately saw its potential and invested in the design of an extravagant space where he could play with unconventional ideas and elements of surprise.
The first, and probably greatest design move is seen at the entrance of the apartment. Upon opening the front door, one is met with an immediate panoramic view over the city of Antwerp, due to a sizable floor-to-ceiling window right opposite the door.
Stepping inside the entrance only intensifies the sensory experience. Aside from the stone floor, the 25-square-meter foyer is like a mirror box infinitely reflecting the city view.
Distortion-free tempered mirror and high-gloss painted surfaces are recurrent in the apartment which plays with the feeling of space, reflection, and perspective—on cupboards, sliding doors, room dividers and even on the inside of the kitchen extractor hood.
Apart from a few load-bearing internal walls, the floor plan and all the interior elements have been designed and made to measure by the studio Bruno founded in 2018.
Verticality is an overall theme seen in the detailing of all the built-in and freestanding furniture. The bench in the foyer and the kitchen islands, along with sanitary elements like sinks and the bathtub in the master bathroom, are customised pieces carrying the same visual expression, all built from strips of locally produced Belgian terrazzo.
Their features are repeated in the painted woodwork, creating a common language, and underlining the verticality of the tower. The light brown stone on the floor seems to set the colour tone for the rest of the apartment, yet only to give room for even more wonder when opening drawers and cupboards where shades of blues and greens pop out and surprise once again.
‘WKA Penthouse’ has taken time to design, conceive and build, and the project demonstrates a meticulous level of detail achieved by Bruno Spaas Architectuur and realise in close collaboration with a small group of constructors and local craftsmen.
[Images courtesy of Bruno Spaas Architectuur. Photography by Jeroen Verrecht.]