HOUSE 58. An urban alternative. Brussels 2012
Exclusive spaces – Spaces of exclusion
Tutor: Martine De Maeseneer www.mdma.be
Theoretical component teacher: Dirk Jaspaert
Students: Simona Bontea, Albertina De Pelsmacker, Grace De Smet, Artyom Kravtchenko
In the face of the urban exodus from the center of Brussels towards the city fringes and countryside areas, alternative housing typologies in the city center are lacking. Growing mobility problems, a growing need for affordable housing for young families and a growing need for more valuable activities in the public space intensify the secluded character of qualitative living areas in Brussels.
The reallocation of Parking 58 is a compact ensemble of living units, collective spaces and green public area. Even though the monolithic building lies on an exclusive space, it functions as a space of exclusion: nowadays it is nearly impossible to design dominant large-scale architecture for the car on such a prominent place in the dynamic heart of the city. Parking 58 demands a thorough rethinking of its destination. The late modernistic architecture by D’Haveloose and Lipski (1958) with its emphasis on the circulation of the car – most apparent in the spatial experience of driving the car up in the building and thereby getting a panoramic view over the city – has been rethought on the level of living in the building. In other words, the ideology that once was applied for the car user, has now been approached from the perspective of the ‘slow’ user, namely the resident and the pedestrian visitor. The existing repetitive grid structure and the up-going spiral of the building are considered as valuable remaining elements to implement the strategy. Although it seems evident to fall back on the ordinary inflation of units and functions following the grid structure, this idea was excluded. From our personal conceptions and discussions, four guidelines were formulated to reply to the existing structure: directing the eye, meaning the visual experience one has constituted by architectural space in and outside the building; the extension of the rear side of the house, meaning the possibility to extend the living units of the residents; the pocket spaces, focusing more on the spatial experience of living in the unit; and the in-between spaces. Living this way leads to a more free use of the given space in which collective spaces contribute to it. Experiencing the building is translated, as making a promenade through a succession of spaces whereby the confrontation with the grid has not been put aside (see the passage, the pentagon and the spiral). From our point of view, it does not seem evident to change the average settled idea of people having their own mainstream house-garden model. This being said, our project suggests a new concept towards qualitative living and housing in the city.