My uncle aka godfather sent me a few questions and I promised I’d answer. So here goes:

1°    Is your staircase going to be exactly like it is depicted?

1°1    I’m surprised by the way the flights of stairs as depicted turn at sharp 90° angles (at the bottom of the first flight, and at the tops of the second and third flights). The steps there are complete triangles, very wide on the outside, but with no stepping space at all in the inner corners. My parents had the same problem when building the Dennen-laan house back in 1970: the carpenter had drawn the turns in the stairs to the cellar and to the attic in precisely the same way; and I protested, saying that people/children/elderly people risk stumbling down if absent minded; but the carpenter shrugged it off, saying “it’s only a cellar stair / attic stair”. So I bought a technical designing manual (“Technisch Tekenen”), and designed the turns in the stairs my bloody self, based on a quarter oval in stead of a quarter circle: hence, all the steps turn gradually, starting from the very first step to half way the flight; and none of the steps are so shallow on the inside that you risk stumbling. I’m very proud of the result. Our stair in the existing house we bought in Kontich is satisfactory also, being designed along the same idea as my own.

A: it’s only a visualisation, so the eventual staircase will be slightly different (called ‘verdreven trap’ in Dutch). But it will be a turning staircase. It shouldn’t be a problem, lots of stairs are built this way.

1°2    In the visualisation, the landing on the first floor (U.K.) between the first and second flights of stairs (the ones that are in each other’s extension) looks very short, leaving you barely enough space to step safely into the living-room, or from the room onto the stairs. Or am I under a wrong impression?

A: the landing is 1.20m, that should be enough.

2°    In the updated design, you dropped the bathroom between the guest-rooms on the second floor (U.K.), using it fully for laundry and boilers. Indeed, two bathrooms in a small house might not be needed. But, don’t you choose to have just a toilet there anyhow, somewhere in a corner? That way, guests don’t have to go upstairs or downstairs for an urgent necessity. I remember my Red-Cross teacher saying, that many people postpone going to the toilet, if they have to go up to the trouble of taking the stairs; and that is not a healthy way of life.

A: I felt three toilets for such a small house would be overkill. Besides, I really need all the space in the boiler room. The boiler will take up a lot of space, as will the ventilation unit.

3°    Is there only one door to cross from the street to your living quarters? Or is there a second door somewhere between the hall (with bicycle) and the rest, to stop draughts from blowing through the entire house? If there is only the front door, and if someone enters from the street during winter, he can send the chill right up to your dining table.

A: There’s only the front door. It’s all very open plan, a bit like a loft. It’s a small space, I didn’t want to divide it too much but keep it as open and spacious as possible. You’re right, ideally, there should be some sort of air lock, but it’s not a public building, it’s not as if there will be people coming in and out all the time.  The windows and door are special passive house windows, they’re very air tight. So there shouldn’t be any draughts when the door is closed.