EUROPAN 12 // Seraing


Tipo: Rehabilitación-Espacio público-Edificación residencial


Seraing came, like many villages and towns in this region, to grow with the introduction of the mining industry. Factories were built and needed workers. These workers lived in houses in the close vicinity of the factories. It created a durable relationship in the urban fabric: the factories needed the workers, i.e. the houses, and the workers needed the factories. Today the factories and workshops, and thus the employment, are leaving or have already left. This not only leaves an empty space in the urban tissue, but also an empty space in the economic life of the citizens of Seraing. The central question of this project is therefore: How can we re-introduce this durable relationship between these to types of zones? In order to answer this question the urban design consists of two main layers. The first layer embeds the design within the site; the second creates the functional relationships.
The main part of the first layer is the green park. It is located all around the red boundary. The concept of the park refers to the typical belgian house. They have, infact, a close curtain overlooking the street and a wide open garden in the backyard. the park has the same logic. It is close along the street forming a filter plant to reduce the impact of noise and pollution and it has a big green heart inside. the vegetation is divided into three diffetent cathegories according to the position in wich they are. On the northen part of the red boundary there is an area for PHYTOREMEDIATION. The type of PHYTOREMEDIATION we have chosen is the Medium Rotation Forest; it’s a five years circle in wich vegetation grows up and than the cut wood is used to produce energy and the soil can be occupated by other crops or buildings. This strategy allows to change the use of the land and admitts different developments phases inside the same piece of land. Near the river’s banks there is an area of agroenergy and two watlands that has also the use of basins of millwork just in case of an overflowing of the river that crosses the project area. The remainder part of the green park is dedicated to flowery meadow and bicycle paths so people can use it as they want…

Instead of looking for contrasts between the new project and its surroundings, the project proposes an architecture that is derived from the streets of Seraing and its region. The buildings use a line typology and are positioned next to a pedestrian ‘street’. Every ‘line’ element consists of different types of standardized houses and apartments, which together form a whole, while being at the same time very different. In this way one can get the same variation in façades and roofs, all together with the same cost reduction of making a standard apartment building. They are orientated northwest – southeast to assure that every house has an outside space towards the southwest. To let every house and every part of the house receive the sunshine, all the rooms are opened to the south- west façade while the functional, less-inhabited spaces (stairs, bathrooms,…) are located in the north-east part. The different types of housing are all based on the superposition of boxes of 6×6 x 3 meters. On the edges of every building zone is a continuing plinth that holds generic spaces. These are multifunctional, common spaces. It is important to know thatthis plinth is useable for all inhabitants in Seraing – so not only for the new living area -, which they can rent for their own use. If there are a lot of families they will benefit from a kindergarten, while a gym or a swimming pool is suited for people who like sports.

Factories are for a long time not any more the main reason of existence of Seraing, but the urban tissue is still made for the ‘man who works at the factory’ with its mono-variety housing. The design proposal shows an urban design that offers housing for multiple sorts of households and multifunctional spaces free to rent to the inhabitants. The proposal does not try to impose a design language that stands apart from the city of Seraing, but instead integrates and mingles with the existing tissue and history. By bringing back the two closed down rivers and integrating the old mining shafts as visual and energetic references, the project settles itself and gives visual leads for the development of the entire site. The housing form with its distinct roof shapes is a direct reference to the existing houses in the centre of Seraing. All in all, the design proposal gives the existing houses and its inhabitants a lot of common spaces and a qualitative park, while the existing tissue gives the design proposal its distinctive shape and services. This just could be a durable relationship, wouldn’t you say?






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