Art Basics for Children (ABC) is an organization that aims to convey the principles of architecture and the arts in a participatory manner to young children. After working for several years with mobile studios in schools and cultural institutions, the need arose for a permanent base to house the increasing public activities. This base was found in an old industrial laundry, located along the tunneled Zenne river, on the border of Schaerbeek and the offices of the Noordwijk. The existing buildings were characterized by major structural and spatial ambiguity, deep plans and little daylight. In addition, the structure was in a very poor condition.
Due to the very low budget available – but mainly because of ABC’s wish for rough, dynamic and accessible spaces – we decided to focus on the bare essentials: improving the insulation of the outer building to a maximum, creating as much usable space as possible by demolishing all unnecessary interior walls, demolishing floor and roof sections in order to bring in more daylight and create structuring, full height ‘voids’. These voids create views through the building, and make room for more large-scale and theatrical activities. The open arches gallery on the corner of the site was covered with a translucent industrial skin and thus becomes a functional space between the inside and outside. This beam-shaped volume also separates the two outdoor spaces: a previously enclosed garden and a paved square where a kitchen area and a dance studio will be built. This square is also the public access to the site. In addition to the above-described interventions, the interior was also provided with new polished concrete floors and white paintwork. The traces of the demolition are still visible. However, the new wooden joinery for the interior window frames, parapets, etc contrasts by refinement. Together with ABC, we designed customized cabinetry. All this furniture was manufactured by the client himself.
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1.725 m² of studios, performance stages and offices
Gaucheretplein 3 – B-1030 Brussels
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The Specific and the Singular / Architecture in Flanders 2008-2009, edition 2010
Niche, Bozar Brussels