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 LafargeHolcim 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.
Reusing Brussels Social Housing Infrastructure
Reuse can provide us with tools to improve the current quality of living that affects a very vulnerable sector of society and can also reduce the number of square meters constructed in new areas. The increase in rents and purchase prices created a serious crisis manifested in social housing in a poor state. Sustainability, therefore, can be reached by diminishing the number of new constructions that jeopardize green areas while tackling social inequalities.The project not only thinks of reuse in terms of infrastructure, but it also considers spatial reuse by reconfiguring existing degrading inhabitable areas. With the material from the demolition of dividing walls, residents designed new texturized walls that created a more personal dialogue with the intervention.
Sustainable benefits of rethinking domestic space
Tackling the current crisis in Brussels housing provided a huge window of opportunities to think about sustainability in terms of reuse. The project also addresses a diversity of typology of living that goes from having originally two main typologies to having six. This new diversity approaches a variety of families and situations benefitting from shared spaces and kitchenless apartments. Domesticity is challenged by reducing areas such as kitchens that produce more waste individually than collectively. The new typologies go from having 40m2 (average) to 90m2 (average). It also rethinks parking spaces by rethinking one level and turning it into green areas providing shared open spaces and facilities. The reconversion provokes a different lecture of space and sustainability.
The concept of sharing
The project envisions the concept of "sharing" as a political, economic and social force that can prevent the current crisis in disengagement of society to expand. This crisis talks about a dominating individualism that consumes more energy and resources. The concept of sharing can gradually reduce excessive consumerism and eventually produce spaces that are more sustainable because they consume fewer means. Sharing is also viewed as a principle and as an action that can provide us with design tools that can challenge the current forces of domesticity, urban planning, land-use, transportation, etc. and reorient them into practices that can turn our living spaces into territories of diversity, flexibility, and less resource consumption.See more
Population growth has led to a shortage of living space in cities such as Brussels. Responding to urban densification is therefore increasingly important. The project by Annik Keoseyan, architect and urban designer from Mexico City, proposes an upgrade of the social housing infrastructure. The concept is based on the principle of sharing: The buildings offer numerous different apartment typologies to accommodate every household size. Personal living space is minimized, whereas spaces that can be shared, for example kitchens and living rooms, are enlarged. This increases the useable space per resident. At the same time, overall space requirements and energy consumption are optimized and social interaction is intensified.
The Awards jury commends the maturity and pragmatic nature of the project, which addresses two core sustainability issues: the reinterpretation of existing structures and the promotion of social sustainability. Marilyne Andersen explains: “It’s complex because it addresses many different dimensions of sustainable living. But it’s also pragmatic in the sense that it seems feasible. It embraces reality. It excels with its adaptability and flexibility.” Annik Keoseyan: “The Award gives the project a visibility that will help to push the idea into next dimension.”Read more »
Next Generation 1st prize ex aequo winner Transforming Collectivity in Belgium – Community housing for socially …
Next Generation 1st prize ex aequo winner Annik Keoseyan, architect and urban designer, Mexico City, Mexico for …
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