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BOGDAN & VAN BROECK ARCHITECTS BELGIUM Kanaal Wijnegem BOGDAN & VAN BROECK ARCHITECTS’ projects are framed in a fundamentally ecological perspective: how to design built spaces and urban developments while taking into account the increasing scarcity of open space and the growing environmental impact of the human presence on earth. Their work focuses on densification, urban design, the redevelopment of brownfields and urban voids, and reducing the footprint of our built environment. When approaching a design, their main question is: what can a project give back to nature and to society? www.bvbarchitects.com The Kanaal project in Wijnegem involved transforming the derelict industrial site of a large, old maltery and distillery with silos and warehouses into a mixed-use housing project. The overall target was to create a fully sustainable and functionally balanced new fragment of urban fabric. BOGDAN & VAN BROECK ARCHITECTS designed 11 000 square meters of underground parking and storage rooms, 8 000 square meters of residential units, the new workshops of Axel Vervoordt, a Belgian leader in art, antiques and interior design, as well as 1 000 square meters of refurbished industrial buildings (showrooms of Axel Vervoordt, a museum, an art foundation, a spa, and a brasserie). The residential part is structured as a continuous sequence of outdoor rooms—“rooms with a view”—that merge into an articulated landscape that connects the site to the adjacent Albert Canal. The residential units are housed in four cubical volumes (“the cubes”). Inspired by the qualities of the individual house, all units have two floors and two or three façades. The façades in all of the zones that have particular qualities or disadvantages have been identified: sunshine, views of greenery, privacy conflicts, views of the canal, acoustic quality, etc. This matrix yields a complex stack of residential units. All dwellings are fully flexible in order to allow different layouts of plans and interior designs. In addition, each unit features a large, double-high indoor loggia with a big folding window frame, which provides a strong relationship between the dwelling and the exterior. The entire project was designed and tested in 3D using Vectorworks software, which proved itself as the only way to verify the feasibility of such a complex, spatial puzzle. It is thanks to the success of this stacked housing morphology that the project has managed to combine high density and quality of life with a unique identity of each property, thus achieving the firm’s true ecological goals.