In a strategically located corner property – although one that was far from ideal as far as form and orientation are concerned – the MS-A and V+ architectural offices designed a landmark building. Their concept won an award from the Wallonia-Brussels Federation with its striking appearance, private outdoor areas, apartments bathed in natural light and respect for the public space.

Project details

Project Passive building with 5 public housing apartments
Architect MS-A and V+
Client Municipality of Schaarbeek - assigned contractor: RenovaS vzw
Products used Terca Knabe F1
Area 1,000 m²
 

Passive building covered with Terca Knabe F1 tiles

Passive Building, Belgium © MS-A

Passive building covered with Terca Knabe F1 tiles

Passive Building, Belgium © MS-A

Passive building covered with Terca Knabe F1 tiles

Passive Building, Belgium © MS-A

Passive building covered with Terca Knabe F1 tiles

Passive Building, Belgium © MS-A

The architects and their surprise

The relatively small corner property with its northern orientation lies directly in the sightline of the Van Praetbrug, an important entrance point of the city of Brussels. The municipality of Schaerbeek held a competition to create a concept for a building with three public housing apartments as part of a larger urban renewal plan for the area. The architects of MS-A and V+ gave the jury a real surprise. Owing to the unique location and to serve as a counterweight to the high building on the other side of Lambermont Lane, they presented an even taller building with an iconic character providing room for five large apartments.

More living space

By leaving the property partially undeveloped along the south side, the designers created a breathing space in the inner zone and a place for south-facing facades and outdoor terraces. A cantilever along Navez Street creates a wider sidewalk and allows the layout of a spacious entrance area. The first three floors contain the same number of split-levels apartments, which are accessible from a central stairway, with the bedrooms being situated somewhat higher along the north wall.

White bricks

The building was finished with glued white facing bricks. Architect Julien Deloffre (MS-A)elaborates: “In the competition phase we were already looking for a clay brick that was as white as possible, because we wanted to create a robust building. Over the long term, clay bricks are more durable regarding both maintenance and appearance. This is how we arrived at Terca Knabe F1. In order to avoid a façade that lacks its necessary emphasis, we conceived a façade with a flat surface, instead of one where the bricks are placed facing one another at a certain angle. In combination with the alternating sunlight, the finish gives the façade a particular texture.”

Award-winning architecture

The maintenance-friendly façade finish, the budget-friendly construction of various components and a subsidy from the Leefmilieu Brussel Authority (Brussels Institute   for Management of the Environment) compensated the additional expenditures for the brick façade construction and its treatment with graffiti-resistant paint. In 2015, the project received an award from the Wallonia-Brussels Federation for Public Development in the public housing category.

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