a collaboration with Cnockaert Architecture
The client's original request concerned the renovation of 21 outdated social housing units. Based on the offer request we investigated the possibilities for the project zone from a broader social context.
The project area is part of the settlement area of Kortrijk and is within walking distance of the centre of Bissegem which includes the station, a community centre, schools, etc. The city centre of Kortrijk and many recreation and green areas are nearby. Still the project area is sufficiently far from busy traffic arteries to exhibit relative tranquillity. This makes the project area a very interesting location for high-quality social living.
SOCIAL CHANGES LEAD TO COLLECTIVE PROFIT
An aging population, changing and smaller family compositions, rising energy prices, etc., are increasing the demand for sustainable, accessible and energy-friendly homes.
The renovation of a large number of social housing units can therefore be an impetus for achieving a significant collective profit. By means of qualitative densification, multiple issues can be addressed simultaneously.
As an alternative to the requested hard renovation, we propose to consider a different strategy. Instead of renovating all houses, a few houses are demolished and are replaced by an increased number of houses. Therefore, the masterplan covers 68 units of social housing.
The new homes can be better tailored to demand, so smaller homes can be built that are better suited for smaller families or families where the children have moved out. The elderly also receive a suitable single-storey home in the context of lifelong independent living. The new homes can be built in a more compact and energy-efficient way. Not only due to contemporary building methods, it is possible to build much more energy-efficient homes, but a compact stacking of the homes also contributes greatly towards energy efficiency.
OPEN SPACE AS A LINK
Our proposal starts from an archetypal setup that is recognizable to every resident. The circular arrangement around a qualitative open space creates a new form of openness and cohesion that will be meaningful to the entire neighbourhood. The houses define the public space through their arrangement and create connections with the surrounding streets through their openness. A dynamic whole is created by varying the distance between them. The new development thus acquires meaning far beyond the site, reinforcing the various social relationships in the wider vicinity.
VARIOUS COMPOSITIONS AS A BASIS FOR PRIVACY
The development of a new housing typology was an essential part of the masterplan. All houses have their own front door and are given their own identity through changing positions and changing orientations. The single-storey houses are always suitable for wheelchair users and thus offer great flexibility regarding the potential residents. With the duplex apartments above, the first floor with the bedrooms is always the same, while there are 2 different types of living spaces that can be mirrored. By placing the living spaces on the top floor, they optimally benefit from natural light. The terraces have different positions, which allows to vary the houses based on orientation and views. The combination of different compositions side by side gives privacy to the houses.
SUSTAINABILITY & ECOLOGY
Our design chooses to implement a higher density on the site in order to meet the need for denser spatial planning in a Flemish context with a need for efficient use of space. This not only benefits the quality of living and diversity in a changing society, it also provides an answer to the economic reality of affordable housing.
Compact construction means saving energy, material, ground surface and, consequently, infrastructure expenditure. The footprint of our intervention is limited to allow water to run off naturally.
These architectural interventions are part of a planning process that strongly considers its context and surroundings, but in essence they create high quality architecture that contributes to vibrant and comprehensive urban spaces that are essential for liveable communities.