“Highly relevant and transferable approach to social housing”
Regional Jury Report – Europe
Last updated: June 14, 2021 Eclepens, Switzerland
Project description by jury
In response to the current housing crisis and the increasing need for urban densification, this project revolutionizes the conventional idea of social dwelling by proposing a new habitat solution founded on the concept of “sharing”, here understood as a political, economic and social claim. The project proposes the adaptive reuse of different rundown building blocks in Brussels to offer more sustainable, democratic housing conditions. Spaces are rethought to offer a diversity of apartment typologies to suit different family configurations and enhance overall quality of living. The strategy for the design of the new dwellings is to minimize the surface of the private domestic area in favor of a number of spaces shared with the neighbors, including kitchens and common areas for adults and children. This paradigm shift of “collectivism versus individualism” results in an increased apartment space when collective areas are included (from an average of 40sqm to 90sqm). By reducing private space, energy consumption is lowered and the implementation of extraordinary social reinforcement dynamics for vulnerable groups – especially pregnant women and single mothers – is achieved.
The Holcim Awards jury Europe highly commended the maturity and pragmatic character of the project, which was perceived as the genuine commitment of a young designer to address two core issues that are central to sustainability: the transformation of existing building stock and the promotion of social sustainability. Housing is imagined as a new social institution that embeds several environmental features. The optimistic character of the project was very much welcomed: the project exemplifies the idea that building transformation can be not only feasible but also cheerful. The suggested architecture was found both essential and compelling in establishing a needed dialogue with the urban context. Overall, the proposal was considered remarkable for the political message it conveys, which makes the project of high relevance and of feasible replicability in other social housing conditions.