MDW Architecture rethink social housing
On the site of a former soap factory near Brussels, MDW Architecture have completed a social housing project aimed at creating a sustainable community. The project consists of 42 accommodations including studio flats, 1-6 bedroom apartments, lofts, duplexes and maisonettes. Although all the residences are part of the public housing scheme, the architects are keen to point out that 'thanks to the diversity of its programme the Savonnerie Heymans provides a variety of spaces echoing the diversity of the people living in the very heart of Brussels'.
The complex provides not only housing for the residents, but a long list of amenities that boost the community aspect of the build. There are spaces for social meetings and events, a public game library (Ludothèque) and many outdoor gardens and playgrounds. MDW carefully used the existing buildings and integrated them into the new design for example the old chimney was used as part of a new ventilation system.
Where the complex really shines is its approach to environmental issues. All of the homes come with thermally efficient and acoustically performing loggias helping to lower energy consumption and also animating the facade of the building. These glass-enclosed loggias allow the residents freedom or privacy with their outdoor space as well as protection from the cold and outside noise. The Loft building has been insulated to the point that the building is now 'passive' and ‘requires less than 15 Kw per square metre per year to heat.’
The issue of sustainability drove the development and the whole complex was designed around this notion. As well as the bioclimatic loggias and the super insulated Loft building the whole scheme runs on a collective heating system, there is 60 sq m of solar panels that provide hot water for the complex, rainwater harvesting systems for the toilets, maintenance and gardens and as many natural materials as possible have been used to insulate the build. MDW have not just designed a social housing complex, but a community for people that really approaches sustainable living.