Cheval Noir Brussels: Molenbeek District Building

Cheval Noir Brussels, Molenbeek District Building, Belgian Project, Photo, Design

Cheval Noir Brussels : Molenbeek Building

Brussels Housing units/Studios for artists, Belgium – design by L’Escaut-Gigogne

10 May 2011

rue du Cheval Noir Building

L’Escaut-Gigogne (Momentary Association)

Housing units/Studios for artists “Cheval Noir”

Openness and visual presence have determined the architectural choices of this building, which is situated on the left bank of the canal in Molenbeek district (Brussels).

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It accommodates 31 housing units/studios for artists of which the configurations arise from their integration in the former Hallemans brewery on the one hand and in the compactness of a small tower on the other hand.

The two buildings are connected through several footbridges above the courtyard which is situated between two public spaces: the Cheval Noir street and the Brunfaut square. A new entrance was realized towards the square to affirm the crossing character of the parcel.

In a limited budgetary context (about 1100 €/m2), we wanted to insure the quality and durability of the building (big surfaces of the openings, aluminium frames, collective ventilation system and boiler room) while using the existing or new raw materials for their aesthetic qualities (apparent bricks, vaulted ceilings, concrete) and for their technical qualities (re-use of the existing bearing system, thermal inertia of the existing brick walls).

Photos: Marc Detiffe

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HOUSING UNITS/STUDIOS FOR ARTISTS «CHEVAL NOIR»

TWO BUILDINGS – ONE PROJECT

The brief of the competition, held in 2003, was to transform the building of the former Hallemans breweries into 31 housing units for artists, including an in-house workspace. On top of the transformation, a new construction was necessary to provide the needed surfaces. This new wing creates space and views onto the courtyard and the surroundings. To improve natural lighting, the upper part of the new building is withdrawn from the property limit, this allows nothern light to enter in the workshops.
Starting from each wing, a network of staircases and corridors crossing the brewery and the courtyard reaches each doorstep. This outdoor circulation provides the courtyard with a dynamic. It is designed to enable spontaneous meetings between inhabitants.

A NEW LIFE FOR INDUSTRIAL INHERITANCE
The project seeks to integrate as much as possible all the structural and architectural elements that are characteristic of the old brewery. On this inheritance background, the necessary interventions for contemporary living are clearly identified. They create a dialogue with the existing building without imitating it.
The new openings in the old walls are radical but necessary to create a part of the new façade after demolitions or to open the southern wall. They bring a maximum of light and create views.
The old chimney is transformed into a barbecue to serve as a possible meeting place for the inhabitants.
The new building is clearly different from the old brewery, both by its contemporary architecture as by its zinc facade.

A NEIGHBOURHOOD IN SEARCH OF NEW BREATH
The insertion of the project in its urban environment can be summarized in two words: openness and visual presence. Since the site is situated between two public spaces (a street and a square), both have an entrance to the building which makes a visual connection between the two spaces. The combination of the old and the new building – both higher than the industrial halls along the Canal – can be seen from the right bank of the Canal and participates in the skyline of Molenbeek.

QUALITY OF SPACES/ECONOMY OF THE PROJECT
In a limited budgetary context (about 1100 €/m2), we wanted to insure the quality and durability of the building (big surfaces of the openings, aluminium frames, collective ventilation system and boiler room) while using the existing or new raw materials for their aesthetic qualities (apparent bricks, vaulted ceilings, concrete) and for their technical qualities (re-use of the existing bearing system, thermal inertia of the existing brick walls).
The choice of standard sanitary and technical units (bathroom and kitchen) follows the same line of thought.
19 of the 31 units are interlocking duplexes, which permits privatizing the apartments by detaching one of the floors from the circulation core (which is then reduced).
The sanitary blocks are concentrated in compact modules, gathered around a minimum number of vertical sleeves.
Except for the bathrooms, the apartments are delivered without internal partitions, allowing maximum flexibility for the users.

Resulting from a competition launched by the Woningfonds of the Brussels-Capital Region, the housing units/studios for artists participate in the urban morphology of the Canal surroundings. After two years of works, the first inhabitants are now ready to move in.

With the spatial and economical challenges of the architecture fulfilled, it is now time for other challenges: the management of public housing with an artistic dimension and its integration in the social context of the Molenbeek district.

Cheval Noir Brussels – Building Information

Project name: housing units/studios for artists «Cheval Noir»
Place: rue du Cheval Noir 17, 1080 Brussels (Molenbeek)
Program: 31 housing units/studios for artists. Transformation of the Hallemans breweries into housing units/studios together with a new construction, creation of a courtyard and the connection between the Brunfaut square and the Cheval Noir street.
Client: «Fonds du Logement» of the Brussels-Capital Region
Architects: L’Escaut-Gigogne (Momentary Association) David Crambert, Nele Stragier – Project leaders, Olivier Bastin, Pierre Van Assche (Atelier Gigogne), Vincent Piroux, Cédric Libert, Stéphane Caprasse
Structure: Ney & Partners
Fluids: Seca Benelux
General contractor: De Coninck nv
Photographs: Marc Detiffe
Surface areas
Renovation: 3,300 m2
New construction: 752 m2
Outside space: 177 m2
Budget: 3,910,000 € wvat
Duration: Sep 2003 (competition) – Apr 2010

Cheval Noir Brussels images / information from l’Escaut Architectures


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Cheval Noir Brussels Building

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