In the heart of the Ardennes, a region adorned with extensive forests, rough terrain, rolling hills and ridges, an exceptional destination can be found: a nature-immersed site on the very edge of the Botanical and Geographical Arboretum of Bouillon. In this unique location Architecture BRIO is developing a cozy nature retreat for those looking for a weekend escape.
The site is located in a close proximity to Bouillon: a captivating city that exudes a profound sense of history and charm. Revered for its medieval fortress, the illustrious Bouillon Castle, the city stands as a testament to its rich cultural heritage. The picturesque Semois River gracefully winds through its landscape, offering serene natural beauty to behold.
The project was commissioned by Soul – a family business that offers stays and events at unique locations across Belgium. The Soul seeks to add a new property to their offer: Soul for Trees, which will be a forest-immersed nature retreat.
The nature retreat site is located a short drive away from the city centre of Bouillon. It can be accessed through the main road on a south east corner, or through an informal pathway leading through the forest along the southern edge. Most of the plot boundaries are enclosed by the forest line, with eastern side opening up towards the hill in the distance. The site has quite a significant slope, starting on the southern edge and sloping down towards the forest. Due to diverse terrain shape and versatile surroundings the site offers multiple interesting views: some vistas are long and open, some are shorter and enclosed by the impenetrable tree line. This diversity of perspectives provides a great opportunity to capture the variety of landscapes as carefully curated views from the inside of the building.
In order to embrace the terrain slope, minimalize the building footprint and benefit from magnificent views around the site the retreat assumes a form of a tower. Comprising of 4 floors, based on a 5,5 m square the volume of the building is partially buried on the south side but completely exposed towards the north. Two bridges, located at two different levels extend from the tower providing two access points at two southern corners of the plot. The bridges work as expansive outdoor decks which can be used for various activities. The tower is crowned with a gable roof and interspersed with irregularly placed windows of different sizes.
One way to enter the tower is through the main access road: from there one can walk along the bridge, eventually reaching a large glazed opening spanning across the façade. It allows to peek inside the tower, but also far beyond, across the building, towards the forest on the other side. The entrance leads to the dining area combined with an open kitchen, with one bedroom located at the rear side.
The second bridge is for the forest wanderers: from the public parking one can curiously decide to follow an inconspicuous path hidden between the trees. There, from the depths of the green corridor a glimpse of the stone structure emerges, inviting for a further journey. The bridge flanked by thick fortress-like stone walls with in-built furniture and a fireplace leads to the second entrance. From here one can walk directly into the multipurpose room – an open space with a fireplace and comfortable integrated seating. Above, reachable by a private staircase the master suite is located. A square room topped with a sleeping loft under the sloping roof offers exceptional views towards different directions.
The remaining spaces are located on the bottom most floor. Beneath the main entrance level, with the direct access to the garden and generous glazing overlooking the surrounding nature, two bedrooms assume their own unique character.
The tower is designed as a monolithic sculptural object carefully placed in the middle of omnipresent nature. In order to maintain the visual uniformity both the tower structure and the bridges are to be constructed out of the same material. Given the desire to maintain the relationship with the local heritage the material chosen for the facades is local Ardennes stone.
Bouillon Nature Retreat
Belgium, Nature Retreat, Landscape, View,
The project site is located in close proximity to the Arboretum of Bouillon and boarders with the National Park of the Semois Valley.
The nature retreat assumes a form of a tower based on a 5,5 m square. Two bridges, located at two different levels extend from the tower providing two access points at two southern corners of the plot.