"Buildings define streets, streets define neighbourhoods and neighbourhoods define cities."Lieve Vermeiren
1. Please describe the philosophy of your practise.
We are a young, small practise and our projects are currently smaller residential projects that vary a lot in program, context, budget and degree of detail. We deal with new buildings and renovations in city context as well as in suburban areas or sometimes even rural conditions. In every project our ambition is to search for the best architectural answer to satistfy the needs within the budget of our client but we always make them aware of the importance of the context and to fit appropiate in that specific context: after all, buildings define streets, streets define neighbourhoods and neighbourhoods define cities. For the moment our projects our mainly residential and for private clients, but we have the ambition to also work on public buildings and more complex projects in a larger practise. Specialisation is no option in our practise, in time we would love to discover the large spectrum of "architecture".
2. Please describe the "Haringrode project".
A dilapidated corner building is turned into a compact, urban "tower house" with office space. A new, contemporary accent marks the corner of two busy streets in the city center. The sharp point of the building block offers, despite its limited surface area of only 48m², many opportunities: the classical stacking of functions is switched around so that the living spaces can relate to the outside spaces on the upper floors with the roof terrace and roof garden and offer an exciting view on the urban flux and green treetops of the urban boulevard. Centrally in the house, a spiraling concrete (in situ) staircase defines the division of spaces: the first floor is simply divided into two bedrooms and a bathroom, on the second floor a few stairs subtly divide kitchen and dining room, to finally sculpturally lead up to the lounge area and roof terrace on the third floor. The ground floor with office space, guest toilet, entrance area and bike storage is elevated from street level to enlarge the existing basement and to offer the office more privacy. The nook of the entrance area is thus accommodated with some stairs, giving it a stately yet inviting aspect while accentuating the transition between public and private realm. The old facade is insulated and plastered with a brush finish in two different directions, providing the building with a new tactile and fragile skin, descending in a strong, robust concrete plinth at street level. The building's volume and large windows refer – through their size and material – as well to the high apartment buildings and the smaller single family houses in both streets. The arrangement of the windows, oriented to three sides, ensures a very spacious experience at every level of the house and surprising perspectives on the exciting, urban surroundings.
"The city of Antwerp has now already become a much better environment for inhabitants, workers and visitors ..."Lieve Vermeiren
3. What makes your neighbourhood special and why?
Our neighbourhood is located on the southside of the city center of Antwerp near Berchem. It's a residential and multicultural neighbourhood, the people of Antwerp often refer to as the Jewish neighbourhood, because a lot of orthodox Jews live here. They determine the vivid streetlife.
4. Antwerp is in the process of transforming some of its parts into new urban areas. What is your observation of this developments and what is your opinion on this?
Only in the last two decades our city is really expanding and transforming with projects of a larger scale and with good quality – thanks to a good city administration and a clear vision for the future of the city. The city of Antwerp has now already become a much better environment for inhabitants, workers and visitors thanks to new parks, better public spaces, museums, public buildings, new residential areas, etc. It is important that this development will be continued in the next decades and as architects we hope to be part of this promising development as much as possible.
5. Where is your favourite spot in Antwerp and why?
For a lot of inhabitants of Antwerp the new park "Spoor Noord" has become their favourite spot in the city: an old train area was transformed to a large park with many facilities, designed by Italian architects Secchi Vigano. In the summer it's a very pleasant and vivid environment where people of all ages and culture meet and enjoy the scenery. For more personal reasons and on a much smaller scale, we love the "St-Annatunnel": It's a small tunnel underneath the river for pedestrians and bicycles that connects the city center with the area "linkeroever", which means left bank of the river and is a unique and magical place, maybe the only one built in the world. The tunnel with automatic stairs was already built in 1933!
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