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The owners of this rather lovely old house in Brussels, Belgium, wanted easier access and better views to their beautiful back garden, and needed to update key interior bathroom and kitchen spaces.

In a single architectural stroke, this wrapping intervention by EXAR Architecture (images by Marc Detiffe) adds contemporary functions and lovely contrast to the existing structure.

The effect is surprisingly understated from the street, preserving the historic facade for pedestrians and neighbors, but adding a dynamic, almost-secret and highly-functional component to the back of the building.

Big modern windows with black trim, topped with rusted steel, play off of existing brick and stucco exterior, twisting to enclose the cleanly-revamped upper level (bathroom) and open up the freshly-renovated lower one (kitchen).