‘Narrow House’ by Brussels-based architect Bassam El-Okeily is a three-storey building in Bilzen, a small city near the eastern border of Belgium. The project, which is a collaborative design with architect Karla Menten, features a dynamic and expressive street facade: a glass-encased layer of space that could be defined as an thin atrium, with two jutting look-out balconies that are skewed in angles and directions. Lit up in a multitude of colors, the face of the ‘Narrow House’ acts as a public light sculpture by night.
Sitting on a lot that is just 5.3 meters wide, the dwelling which was built for a couple accommodates a garage and entrance on the ground floor. The second and third level above are completely enclosed in glazing, exposing a white facade with a set of balconies. The lower balcony connects to the the client’s library and reading nook, offering him natural light as well as a sheltered view of the street. The upper platform, which seems to be turned slightly to face the other, juts off the third-level studio, where the the other homeowner works as an artist.
Because one of the two exposed facades of the house is made mostly solid by
the balcony set-up, the rest of the interior draws on clever slicing away of ceiling mass and walls to sufficiently light up the space. The main living space on the second level is set back further into the lot and features a carved out atrium that allows natural light to wash down the walls from above. Small geometric windows and clerestories allow rooms that are not directly linked to the facade to still be bright and well-lit.