Antwerp Vertical Social Community
C.F. Møller has designed a 24-storey residential tower block in Antwerp’s Nieuw Zuid area on the river Schelde, with the aim of redefining the multi-storey block as a social, vertical community. The tower block breaks with the traditional multi-storey building trends, which isolate residents, since it is designed as a sustainable, collectively-oriented community in which social encounters are created using a wide range of architectural features.
“In classical multi-storey buildings it’s often a challenge to any sense of community that you only meet your neighbours in the lift or lobby. We wish to overturn this by renewing how we design residential tower blocks. This means that we have considered the building from within and outwards, with the social qualities driving the design,” says Lone Wiggers, partner and architect at C.F. Møller.
This seems to have been well-received by the Belgians, and half of the flats have now been sold.
The coming owners can look forward to living in a residential tower block that is characterised by diversity, and where social encounters are facilitated and promoted by a large number of measures, without sacrificing the need for a private life. The building e.g. includes many different types of housing for a varied mix of residents, from small shared flats suitable for students, to larger family homes and live-work homes, all grouped in dimensioned communities.
The tower has 24 storeys in total, an area of 15,000 m2 with 154 homes, as well as shops, office space and communal facilities. A light grid sub-divides the tower’s façades into smaller units with five flats’ private balconies, which are staggered in relation to each other. This gives a sense of intimate neighbourliness across the storeys, with the opportunity for both privacy and social interaction, as is known from traditional horizontal neighbourhoods. There is also 4,000 m2 of extra space comprising terraces, winter gardens and rooftop terraces, adding extra quality and helping to underline the building’s profile, from the large urban scale to the human scale.
The shared facilities for the entire tower block comprise a bicycle workshop, a laundry and a community room with a roof landscape on the fifth floor, which is shared by all residents.
The result is a light grid enveloping the volume, structuring the facades and connecting the vertical mini-communities – every visible compartment represents a cluster of similar apartments opening towards the balcony spaces. At the end gables of the tower, the grid forms glass-enclosed winter gardens serving as green semi-outdoor living spaces, and the common spaces for all residents include a bike-repair and dining room at the foot of the tower, a shared 5th floor facility with a landscaped roof terrace for residents and office-workers alike, and a triple-height green oasis at the top with spectacular views over Antwerp and the river Schelde.
The building will be made of pleasant and durable materials; predominantly warm grey-brown brick contrasted by white concrete, and is designed to achieve the passive-house standard, thus altogether omitting the need for a central heating system. Great care is taken to mitigate the possible negative effects that tall buildings can have on the local microclimate, and to ensure a positive contribution at street level.
C.F. Møller won the project for the residential tower block in Antwerp in an international competition held in 2014, in cooperation with BRUT architects and ABT, and the lowest storeys are now being constructed.