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THE LINK, 140 SOCIAL HOUSING UNITS
Tubize 2003
Belgium

PROGRAM : 140 social housing units, offices, museum and shopping mall
SITUATION : Mirande Avenue
COMPETITION : Europan 7, “Suburban challenge”
At the heart of the industrial city that has a rural character, the project is a link between the various types of habitat and the functions of the neighbourhoods that surround it. Its simple and strong architectural identity constitutes a link between meeting-places and centres of intense urban activity. This architecturalised link creates a tension and an omnipresent dialogue with the undulating landscape of this farming area.

Two tectonic strata slip lightly against each other. Punctuated by large empty spaces, they provide a frame for the landscape. The branches of the lush vegetation sensually enter the project area and seem to support it structurally. But by taking the path connecting the Mirande Avenue to the “Les Bruyères” estate we can see that a forest of needles delicately supports the thin strata of the whole. This little path leads to the car park secretly situated under the hill that runs alongside the avenue. Ramps and lifts lead us to the upper levels.

Mirande Avenue is redeveloped into an urban roadway. Indeed its under part makes it possible to get to shops and offices for liberal professions. The oblique views created by the piercing of the strata multiply as if to espouse the landscape better and to inject dynamism into the pathways. A little further up the avenue, other footbridges lead us onto a big wooden square on which there is - in the middle of a stretch of water - the all-purpose hall whose transparent façades reveal themselves to the passers-by. Looking hard at the sky line of the plateau of Hainaut Brabançon (a region situated near Brussels) we could think we are on the bridge of a boat floating on a green ocean. But this bridge at last constitutes the urban square that unifies the broken up urban network of the contemporary city. The new public, cultural and sporting events of the nearby neighbourhoods will take place on this square.

Finally we arrive thanks to ramps and lifts on the upper stratum where living accommodation is diversified. Homes are implanted like a huge domino, that is the metaphor of the extreme flexibility created by the structural framework of the project.

Their organisation is simple and offers to each of them a maximum ease of access towards the rural landscape. Their façades add transparent and translucent glass panels to opaque wooden and metal walls to ensure people’s privacy. Inside the living quarters are bathroom installations, bedrooms and kitchen cupboards. These huge monolithic pieces of furniture are lit by domes that filter the light and perforate the roof which resembles a huge sheet of paper with Braille writing on it.

COPYRIGHT : VINCENT CALLEBAUT ARCHITECTURES