The project was obtained by winning a competition called by the City of Mechelen.
The city council aimed the old Buso site to be developed as a high quality urban area, housing ten loft dwellings. The commission was entrusted to dmvA because they were the only architect office that took the ‘spirit of the factory’ as starting-point.
The site enclosed a big factory building, with a number of small-added building volumes on one hand, and a dwelling that gave access to the street on the other hand. Alleys provided access to the former factory.
The exterior space was limited and fragmentary.
In phase one, the added volumes were pulled down to rehabilitate the factory building. In view of sustainability and economics the building was kept as best as possible, stripping took place mainly inside the building.
In a second stage the garden of one of the houses was expropriated in order to get one big semi-public space.
The pretty closed factory building contained two floors. On several places, where the structure of the building allowed to, openings were made in roof and floors. These openings generated patios and an inner street.
All loft-dwellings are accessed by way of this semi-public space.
Each loft is unique. Contemporary transparent building volumes are placed on top of the building as an extra space for the lofts. The roof becomes one big roofgarden, planted with sedums.
To emphasize the spirit of the old factory-site, the outside of the factory is clad with panels of corten-steel. These panels were attached on a structure with 15 cm insulation.
Principal: City of Mechelen
Team: David Driesen, Tom Verschueren, Astrid Geens, Christine Loos, Michaël De Roeck
General contractor: Brebuild
Constructional engineer: Util
Built area: 2000 m2
Photography: Frederik Vercruysse