The architects have conceived a tree-like residential tower consisting of six units arranged around a green inner courtyard.

Project details

Reference object

Construction of an apartment building with six residential units for the inner-city area, Antwerp, Belgium

Architect

IEA Import Export Architecture, Antwerp

Contractor

D’Hulst Van Rymenant, Lier

Client

AG Vespa – autonomous municipalcompany for real estate and urban projects in the city of Antwerp

Roofer

LGJ Dakwerken, Westerlo

Clay roof tiles used

VHV glazed, three shades of green

Residential Building in Antwerp

Residential Building in Antwerp

Residential Building in Antwerp

Residential Building in Antwerp

Residential Building in Antwerp

Residential Building in Antwerp

Residential Building in Antwerp

Residential Building in Antwerp

Residential Building in Antwerp

Residential Building in Antwerp

Cross-sections of various fruits

Import Export Architecture answered the question of how you can prune away parts of a densely built-up inner city area with solutions inspired by the cross-sections of various fruits: an avocado, an apple, a tomato or a kiwi. The possibilities were obvious, with the extremes ranging from the removal of a large, central kernel (as in the avocado) around which buildings can be constructed, to thinning out the built-up area by picking out discrete small seeds (the kiwi) with equally dispersed structural developments.

Stacked up living

Instead of constructing a traditional terraced house, the architects stacked six different typological layouts in a block adjacent to the street. The volumes are displaced horizontally with respect to one another and are crowned with a roof terrace. The result is a dynamic facade made up of interlocking volumes that the mind cannot absorb in just a single glance. The original idea of creating a vertical facade of greenery was quickly abandoned. Instead, the architects took photographs of the crown of a tree, which they then translated into suitable materials. The photo was blown up until the individual pixels could be seen. Exactly the same arrangement of pixels was then turned into a wall cladding by applying the pattern in three shades of green to glazed clay roof tiles. The architects‘ preference was for clay tiles because they wanted to use a material as a way of introducing a suburban element into the dense city centre context. The bark-like structure of the ground floor plinth, which is finished with brown facing bricks, extends the tree metaphor. The view of the city is provided by square window openings framed with coated aluminium, with the actual window being recessed. The positioning of each of these openings has been carefully considered, so that they act as frames for particular elements of the cityscape: a church tower perhaps, or an architecturally especially attractive building.

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