Residential complex, Brussels
Old iron chic
BRUSSELS (BE) - For a long time Brussels did not go out of its way to impress, but its naming as Cultural Capital of Europe in 2000 brought renewed life to historic buildings and decaying streets. More than a decade later, the city's urge to renovate is not yet satisfied. The municipality of Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, which for many years carried the nickname 'Little Manchester', is getting an urban makeover to bring about more consistency and an open streetscape, while keeping traces of the neighbourhood's industrial past. With the renovation of the former scrap metal dealer Brumétal into a social housing complex, MDW Architecture exactly meets this ambition.
The general design reflects a contemporary approach based on the genius loci. The existing facade was incorporated into the renovation, and the new grey metallic slats fit well into the original industrial character. Additionally, the interior of the four-flat building consists mainly of metal, which gives the complex a certain historical value and ensures robustness and durability. For contrast, the architects have chosen a wooden finish: wooden doors, frames, terraces, benches and other tactile spaces give the whole a warmer look.
In order to maximize the amount of light captured, as well as to take advantage of the best sunlight, the interior of the plot was cleared of its original high party walls and the three terraced maisonettes were raised, significantly reducing each apartment's energy consumption. Another important element of the architectural composition is the vegetation: creeping plants grow along the street front and the party walls, while elsewhere are private gardens, green roofs, and a planted common space that includes a tree.
MDW Architecture demonstrates how an existing building can be revamped without using too many new materials. Ample light and vegetation give 'Little Manchester' an industrial-chic feel.
Monday | 21 November | 2011 | Belgium | Kim Hoefnagels