BRINGS SUBTLE TOUCH TO BALCONIES
A majestic historical villa and its surrounding park garden in the picturesque city of Bree were the perfect setting for a modern senior housing complex. These comfortable apartments are aimed at older people who desire living independently, but with customised assistance always within reach.
The villa and its spacious courtyard date back to 1908-1909. For many years, it was owned by the local judge of the peace C.H.M.L. Wauters, which is why Bree’s inhabitants still refer to it as ‘the judge’s castle’. After having been for sale for a long time, in consultation with the municipality of Bree, the plot found a new destination: it would accommodate a housing project with recognised service apartments for people over 65 years, managed by a healthcare organisation.
In order to maximise the potential of this beautiful historical site, the position of the new buildings in relation to both the garden and the ‘castle’ had to be chosen well. Thomas Roex, associate architect at Contour Architecten: “The castle is located on the front side of the plot. If you place the two residential blocks in the centre of the garden, you obstruct the view from the castle. That is why we placed the blocks on the external border of the garden. This way, the residents of both the castle and the apartments have a view of the garden, while we respected the original location of both the castle and its garden.”
Another important point to take into consideration was the residents’ privacy. The two buildings are positioned sufficiently far apart and thanks to the deep, inset balconies, there is no direct view into neighbouring apartments. The deep balconies also break the massiveness of the volumes and allow the natural light to go deeper into the apartments.
Together with the property developer, the Contour designers conducted thorough research to find the best material for this specific application. Roex: “At first, we opted for wood. But wood requires quite a bit of maintenance. If not maintained properly, the material around the inset balconies and the other façade elements would not weather in the same way. Moreover, you cannot expect senior people to be able to carry out the required maintenance on wooden façades. That is why we deliberately opted for Pura® NFC Trespa guaranteed us durability, colour stability and low maintenance. Residents can simply rinse the material with water and the cleaning product that we prescribe.”
“If we look at machinability, installation, price and expected durability, then I definitely see us opting for Pura® NFC again.”
- Thomas Roex, Contour Architecten
The façade materials were absolutely not allowed to have gloomy hues and colours, as creating a holiday feeling for the residents was one of the project developer’s requirements. Thomas Roex: “The white plasterwork contrasts subtly with the Pura® NFC PU17 Aged Ash around the balconies, giving the building a pleasant open and airy look. If I would consider Pura® NFC for future projects? Naturally, its long-term performance can be assessed only over the long term. But if we look at machinability, installation, price and expected durability, then I definitely see us opting for this material again.”
Contour Architecten in Genk, Belgium, was founded by Detlef Andries and Thomas Roex in 2013. The five-member team represents a personal approach and delivers varied projects, including individual homes, apartment complexes, care centres, offices and recreational facilities.