Paleizenstraat 153 - 1030 Brussels
T 022444430 F 022444431 E

reconversion of a warehouse in single family housing and artistic workshop

Location :
Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, Brussels
Surface :
610 m2
Team :
AgwA + Evelia Macal
Subcontractors :
JZH & Partners
Planning :
Category :
This project pertains to the transformation of a warehouse of almost 1000sqm built between 1900 and 1970 in Molenbeek into a single family house and a shared arts workshop.

The demolition works are very limited. All the structures are maintained, in order to limit the waste and to keep the potentials of the place intact. Reuse of the old tiles, of the roof and of the terraces.

We calculated that the grey energy of the insulation works suppresses the profits of heating energy on the long term. Consequently, we reduced the heated areas by half. The chosen hemp insulation is locally produced and presents one of the lowest carbon footprints available.

Depending on the seasons, two small heated zones take advantage of the vast structures in which they are housed. The modesty of the program in regard to the scale of the existing lies at the heart of the architectural quality of the project. Targeted actions ensure precision, feasibility and appropriateness.

Part of the roof is replaced by an industrial greenhouse with a productive purpose, which takes advantage of the heated neighboring volume. The two gardens are planted with a diversity of productive plants and trees.

The concrete structure needs to be reinforced. The first proposal of additional concrete beams is updated to massive wooden slabs of juxtaposed girders, relocating work on the site. The existing beams are supported by wooden columns resting on the existing foundation. Concrete and steel are virtually banned from the project. Aluminium and mineral insulation are avoided whenever possible.

Every decision on the work site is marked by a resistance to the unnecessary, aiming at a rough, essential, intelligible construction. The plasterboards of the roof are replaced by planks, as are the glue-containing panels and waterproofing membranes covering the floor of the greenhouse.

Amongst others, roof and terrace tiles were recovered from the existing construction. Railings, tiles and stones are reused from the ongoing works at "Palais des Expositions" in Charleroi. Decorative tiles, partly produced in Chimay in the first half of the century, were reclaimed from an old project in Hanzinelle.

These strategies appeared progressively during the design process and the construction site. It is not only about the built reality, but also about the process in which profound changes in the project appear, aiming at reducing the environmental impact, re-localizing both production and work, questioning constructing reflexes, and, interestingly, enriching the resulting architecture.

"Verbiest - approximations" (2022) unfolds the design and realisation process of the project. It was edited by Harold Fallon and Evelia Macal, with Orfée Grandhomme, and was published by Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther und Franz König. More informations in the "books" section.