Cultural Training Center Destelheide
The original design for Destelheide, a youth retreat in Dworp (near Brussels), by the Belgian modernist architect Paul Felix evolved from a harsh campus model to a more gentle, embedded design: all volumes stand aligned on top of the hill, overlooking the valley, the surrounding heath left untouched. Extensive and careful maintenance has left the site seemingly unchanged since its realization in ’74, however recently, the need for a capacity upgrade by means of a new dormitory and residential pavilion presented itself.
Contrary to the master plan, it seems nonsensical to us to abandon the linear logic of the site – which Felix so brilliantly emphasized – by cutting into more of this wonderful landscape or tearing down the existing structures. We thus opted to analyse whether the answer perhaps laid within “the originals” themselves, simultaneously aiming to build more intelligently by building less.
We proposed to extrude the existing dormitory and pavilion, thus adding one ‘new’ level that differs only in its materialization: a light solid wood construction cladded with aluminium now complements the existing massivity of the architectural concrete. Up top, amidst the treetops, the ultimate vista over the scenery was rendered.