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Design 1, Loneliness 0

As part of a competitive pitch, OYO was invited to design a large residential block for Wibier St Amandsberg (the assisted living complex for elderly people). We won the competition not by designing a building, but by designing ways to combat loneliness.

  • Client: OCMW Sint-Amandsberg
  • Location: Sint-Amandsberg, Belgium
  • Category: Residential
  • Program: New assistant housing development
  • Status: Completed 2019
  • Building area: 4.032 m²
  • Collaborators: Arch&Teco
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15001 Oc Mw drawing1

We tweaked the initial masterplan: our first decision was to create two smaller residential blocks rather than one large one. To ensure these structures also fitted neatly into the existing complex each of the blocks were designed with a “kink” in them to maximise the available space.

This was done for two reasons:
1. It would break the housing into two micro communities of 15 blocks, scientifically proven to be an optimal number for social interaction.
2. It would enable us to create an outdoor space between the two blocks which could provide a central meeting place for residents. To ensure these structures also fitted neatly into the existing complex each of the blocks were designed with a “kink” in them to maximise the available space.

20201123 15001 Oc Mw Sint Amandsberg storyschemes ks Artboard 1
defining plot area
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raising volumes
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creating two smaller blocks
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redefining position
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maximising available space
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providing connections with the environment
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maximising natural daylight
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integrating in context
Model 1
project masterplan
Exterior polyvalent final

One of the new residential blocks also features a community café on its ground floor. This provides a place for residents to come and meet one another, whatever the weather with indoor and outdoor seating.

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Walking & talking

We also created a through way for the complex that encourages residents crossing the grounds to do so via the café and green spaces, naturally increasing social encounters between people.

Schematics OYO Oc Mw1
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"The apartments are divided in two programmatic stripes. One contains the living spaces and one holds the night areas. This rhythm defines the general outlook of the building and breaks the scale of the project."
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open ground floor
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floorplan

Public to private

The apartments themselves are designed to facilitate a natural transition from privacy to social interaction and vice versa. Entering the home you move past the porch and large courtyard facing window and walk to the rear of the living space, where each resident has their bedroom and a south-facing balcony overlooking a tranquil green space.

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Int6

Flexible plan layouts make for personalised homes, according to the residents' preferences and needs.

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Corridors to create conversation between neighbours

Thinking about how to stimulate conversation between neighbours within the new residences, our key piece of inspiration came from the porches of the United States. We reimagined corridors as spaces for interaction and conversation, bending the façade in front of each flat for residents to sit outside their home and speak to their neighbours and/or watch the world.

Int01

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Design 1, Loneliness 0

This project illustrates our focus on spatial purpose. By refusing to start this project by defaulting to obvious aspects of accessibility and making things “elderly friendly”, we opened up conversations about what would improve the quality of life of every resident. What more could this space do for people? In the end these homes aren’t just places for people to live. They’re opportunities for more people to enjoy life, together.

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visualisation of proposal
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executed design
Team
Nigel Jooren, Lies Willaert, Xander Denduyver, Ferran Massip, Luca Morosetti, Miguel Sousa
Credits

Pictures: Tim Van de Velde Photography

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