Famous for his minimalistic and at times Brutalist aesthetic, Belgian architect Vincent Van Duysen espouses a refined yet textured design vocabulary. Whether developing a new product, interior, or full build-up architecture project, the creative polymath seeks out pure yet tactile materials that, combined together, can achieve a timeless quality. Beneath the surface, Van Duysen’s craft-led methodology allows him and his team to treat each new assignment with a tabula rasa approach; taking into account context, history, and the physical experience of the user. Considerations of durability, luminosity, and comfort are also crucial to his practice. Van Duysen’s highly-luxurious projects can be found in retail, hospitality, workspace, and private spaces throughout Belgium and Europe. A few are located in the United States.
Key aspects of Van Duysen’s approach are evident in the recently opened August hotel. The new boutique lodging emerges out of a former Augustinian convent in Antwerp, that once served as a military hospital. The architect’s holistic intervention pays homage to this history. The neoclassical complex of five buildings has been reimagined under his singular vision; carrying a similar color, material, and furnishing palette across all aspects of the project: Van Duysen’s first hotel.
Located in the Belgian city’s lush Green Quarter, August features various amenities—a dedicated wellness area, open-air swimming pool, and secluded gardens re-fashioned by Wirtz International Landscape Architects. At the core of these various components is a central restaurant and bar volume that repurposes the function of an erstwhile hospital canteen. The August Resturant is run by Michelin star chef Nick Bril—of the wildly popular and nearby The Jane—and features a warm yet timeless design scheme that evokes the serenity of monastic life.
Restored tile floors are joined by double-height windows. Van Duysen collaborated with restoration architecture firm Callebaut Architects—recently in the new for its wild proposal to restore Notre Damme—to strike a careful balance between historical preservation and contemporary enhancement. Soft green wood, dark smoked oak, and white color-tones are framed by bold black accents. The use of Metalic elements helps achieve this juxtaposition. Restored moldings and doors play off of white marble details. With staff uniforms designed by top Flemish talent Christian Wijnants, all other accessories were developed by Van Duysen in collaboration with various luxury manufacturers: The Passe-Partout Porcelain tableware collection by Serax, furniture by Molteni & C and lighting by Flos.
“August is a place where you feel calm and at home without neglecting the fact that you are in a place that was sacred,” Vincent Van Duysen explains. “We have fully considered the past as being a beautiful gift to keep and reinterpret what we have in a modern way. August strokes all [of] the senses with the richness of its textures and objects that are in delicate harmony with its sacred soul.”