Urban Villa at a Low Price: Seniors’ Apartments in Heist-op-den-Berg
Client: Emmaüs vzw
Architects: Atelier Kempe Thill/ Daniel van Doorslaer
Structural engineering: UTIL Struktuurstudies
Location: Kerselaarlaan 19, BE 2220 Heist-op-den-Berg (BE)
Back in 2013, Atelier Kempe Thill and Daniel van Doorslaer won the invited competition to design a new structure for a seniors’ home in the Flemish town of Heist-op-den-Berg. Their design from that time comprised 120 apartments in four urban villas. The first of the new buildings has now been completed. The three-storey home accommodates thirty-six assisted-living apartments, all suitable for wheelchairs. Most have two rooms; only the corner units, which are somewhat larger, have three. Open kitchens and sunrooms with 7 metres of glazing are standard features of the apartments, which are accessed via a central atrium with surrounding galleries. This skylit space is not only a traffic pathway; on the ground floor it serves as a generous communal area with an open kitchen, thus forming the spatial heart of the urban villa.
To make it possible to realize the building for the standard price for seniors’ homes and yet enable high-quality workmanship, the architects designed the building to be extremely compact. Furthermore, they took advantage of the techniques of prefabrication and streamlining. All the apartments are based on an axial measurement of 7.20 metres. The front façades, which are extensively closed off, consist of large-format, anthracite-coloured prefab concrete elements; the interior façades of the loggias, which are of lime sandstone masonry, have been plastered in dark grey. Ceiling-high sliding glass doors delimit the sunrooms from the outside.
Inside, the architects took great care in planning the technical installations in order to do without suspended ceilings and keep any pipes as short as possible. In contrast to the façades, the atrium has been done in light shades: sand-coloured tiles cover the floors, all-glass balustrades line the galleries and, on the second upper level, storey-high fire-protection glazing has been installed around the atrium. The entrance doors to the apartments were designed expressly for this project and consist of solid oak.