Modern answers to historical environment

The ‘Peuple Belge’ project houses 15 multi-family houses. A number of quality catering establishments are located on the ground floor and first floor. For example, the first floor is occupied by the gastronomic restaurant ‘Le Cerisier’ and the ground floor of the associated brasserie, ‘La Griotte’. Restaurant guests can stay overnight in ‘Les Nids’ – guest rooms spread over the upper floors. The houses on the upper floors have spacious terraces and large loggias.

When designing the ‘Peuple Belge’, various parameters required extra attention. With a program of multi-family houses and modern catering, the project is to become a symbol of renewal for ‘Vieux-Lille’, a neighborhood that in itself is marked by a significant historical heritage. The square is located directly opposite two symbolic Little buildings: ‘Hospice-Comtesse’ is a hospital from the 17th.that century, now a museum. Next door is the ‘Tribunal de Grande Instance’ by Marcel Spender and Jean Willerval, architects who established a number of reference projects in northern France in the 1970s. Along the entire Avenue du Peuple Belge, both older cultural heritage and tall, modern buildings can be seen.

corner location

Due to the corner location of the site, it was not possible to take advantage of the view of a rear inner area during the design, also because the entire site on site was necessary to achieve a certain installation depth. This limitation was a decisive factor in the choice to open the apartments wide out to the city and provide a large glass area in front.

These initial proposals led to a white, austere building with a playful six-story facade. The facade owes its characteristic appearance to the skeletal structure, which seems to have a different dimension for each direction of view due to its different heights and incremental volumes. With the white color, the architects chose a building that fits in nicely with the environment, but is not overshadowed by the neighborhood’s heritage. The cascade effect is also a response to complex urban planning requirements. In addition, the playful volume makes the building form a beautiful capstone for the row of houses, by hanging nicely together with the adjacent buildings in both streets. ‘Peuple Belge’ structures the street corner with a light design language that exudes mass and materiality at the same time. White architectural concrete was chosen as the material.

Simon Ducreu, head of Coldefy: “Happy, white and clean, polished concrete was used for all constructive elements. The material appears as stone with visible aggregates, which also allows a play of light in the facade. Not only the facade elements are made of prefabricated concrete, but also all interior walls, which made it possible to make the floors very quickly, with great precision and almost in a dry process. ”

white grid

The facade is intended as a white lattice, whose bay size adapts to the functions. Simon Ducreu: “Wider openings allow the restaurant to look out over the city. Subsequently, a denser lattice was used for the houses to ensure privacy. On the higher floors, large openings give residents the opportunity to enjoy the unobstructed view of the city. ”

Technically, the facade in architectural concrete consists of 2 consecutive gratings that are complementary in function and shape. A primary and structural concrete frame is the constructive support for the beams and for pots 60 cm wide. The secondary frame is constructed ‘more arbitrarily’ and varies per floor and per. facade. The second frame consists of non-load-bearing concrete elements of 25 x 25 cm. The pattern of the facade has two variants that more or less match the facades in the different streets.

The architectural concrete was supplied by Decomo from Mouscron. Project manager Marnix Soubry: “At the factory, we made elements with different types of finishes: polished, raised … In the end, the architects chose a polished finish. This element was also manufactured as a prototype on site to see how the material would work in the context of its environment. The prefabricated items in Belgium were delivered to the site every other day due to lack of space. The performance was in one Right on time and step-by-step approach in 9 extremely precise steps performed on the construction site. ”

The structure of the concrete

Architectural concrete is a material that meets the highest requirements. The concrete selected here has strength class C35 / 45 and exposure class XC4-XF1. A lot of white sand was used, so the color is reminiscent of marbled natural stone. The polished concrete has a mirror-smooth appearance, but there are also small particles of granules in the surface. The concrete elements were prefabricated at the factory using custom-made wood formwork. These prefabricated elements were assembled on site using anchor boxes: round corrugated steel pipes for casting the sealing mortar (Clavex), which connect the concrete columns to each other.

Peuple Belge was delivered in 2019.

Together with FEBE and FEBELARCH, Architectura publishes a white paper on architectural concrete. You can request this fascinating document for free by simply sending an email to Shortly afterwards, you will receive the digital white paper in your mailbox.

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