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Exclusive Film | Inside JUMA Architects’ Home and Studio

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    Step inside JUMA Architects founders and directors Mathieu Luyens and Julie Van De Keere’s family home in Sint-Martens-Latem, Belgium.

    “Sint-Martens-Latem is one of the most coveted villages in Belgium,” Mathieu says, “not only because of its green environment but because it’s a creative village.” It’s here Mathieu and Julie conceptualised their brick home, where they live with their two daughters and feline friend Cookie. It’s also where you’ll find their adjoining studio – all built around ‘unique and irreplaceable trees’. “We all know the benefits of a green environment,” Mathieu says. “It calms you down, it brings a lot of positivity, and it also boosts your productivity and your creativity. I think that’s a really big advantage for living and working here,” the architect adds. 

    A long driveway bordered by old leafy trees leads to three connected brick volumes; a double garage, the architects’ office and Mathieu and Julie’s family home. While they all share the same material palette, the buildings differ in size and form. “It’s always been a really special place because I grew up here,” Julie says. “That’s why the ideas of what we wanted to do came really fast because I was so familiar with the surroundings here.”

    Julie and Mathieu were met with the challenge of a ‘far from ideal’ orientation when designing their home. They approached it with the same penchant for drawn-out and low forms as in other projects, leading to an elongated floor plan. “The house isn’t the biggest house you have ever seen, but it is used very intensively,” Matthieu says. The master bedroom with walk-in-wardrobe and ensuite are kept as a separate suite on the first floor, while every other space, including the children’s bedrooms, are located on the ground floor.

    The kitchen is the heart of the home – a crossroad that connects all of the communal spaces. Featured in est Magazine issue #36, the striking chocolate and travertine kitchen space relays the fundamental value of natural stone in Belgian architecture and interior design. “It was important that the floor needed to be the same as the countertop and the countertop needed to be resistant enough to be able to cook,” Matthieu says. “We like the fact that you can use the stone-filled and not filled,” he adds. “This gives a different dynamic.” One of Mathieu and Julie’s favourite parts about the kitchen is the V-Zug oven, located in the second ‘dirty’ kitchen, where you’ll find them washing – or concealing dishes. 

    The sumptuous dark timber and travertine kitchen features the Knoll Bertoia barstool and brass Vola tapware.

    The dining room features the Knoll Tulip chair designed by Eero Saarinen.

     “Our most personal objects are those on the shelves in the living room. All of these objects are memories from our travels. We travel a lot and we try to buy an (art) piece each time we make an unforgettable journey.”

     

    – Architect Mathieu Luyen

    White-washed timber, travertine and neutral rugs are the foundation of the communal areas.

    Mathieu attributes the home’s relaxing atmosphere to the material palette. “I think it was important to show you can combine a lot of different materials, even if the different spaces are very close,” he says. An example the architect cites is the master bedroom, walk-in robe and ensuite situated on the first floor. “Because those are the only rooms on the first floor and because of the materials and colours, this floor feels like a hotel suite,” he says. On the other hand, when seeking to recharge with family and friends, you’ll find Mathieu and Julie in the kitchen that connects to the outdoor pool area.

    Quality family time is spent in the living room which also features some of the architects’ most-adored pieces. “Our most personal objects are those on the shelves in the living room,” Mathieu says. “All of these objects are memories from our travels. We travel a lot and try to buy an (art) piece each time we make an unforgettable journey.” These curios include ceramics from Ecuador and Estonia and painting from Tuscany. 

    A standout piece in Mathieu and Julie’s home is the vintage Soriana sofa by Afra & Tobia Scarpa for Cassina with an ST04 Backenzahn Stool in Walnut tucked by its side.

    The inspiration behind some of the furniture in the living room has come from their travels too, like 529 Rio coffee table by Charlotte Perriand which Mathieu and Julie fell in love with at Hotel Les Roches Rouges in France. Mathieu says the Soriana sofa by Afra & Tobia Scarpa for Cassina and Knoll Barcelona chairs were gifted to them by his late mother. 

    “Living here for a few years now, I just think I don’t want to change anything – I’m very happy with the way it is,” Matthieu says, with Julie adding, “It looks like the house has always been here…like it really belongs to its surroundings.”

    The master ensuite features a natural stone bath and custom vanity with black Vola tapware.

    The master suite features a custom walk-in robe with signature travertine island.

    Soft tones and textures in one of the girl’s bedrooms offset the rawness of the concrete ceiling.

    The architects’ own sauna space.

    The Butterfly lounge chairs feature by the pool.

    The home’s exterior features textural brickwork that has been integrated into the landscape architecture. Material rawness is a theme that runs both inside and outside.

    Mathieu Luyens and Julie Van De Keere; photographed by Chess Bonte

     

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