RENOVATION OF A FORMER FIRE STATION AND ARTS ACADEMY INTO HOUSING, ART GALLERY AND COMMUNITY SUPPORT FUNCTIONS IN GHENT | PPP COMPETITION ORGANISED BY THE CITY, 2ND PLACE
The art of living.
A quiet urban block in the bustling heart of Ghent, close to one of the most enchanting spots of the city with its weeping willows along the Lievekaai, is subtly broken down into individual entities of various scales, halfway between individual houses and an apartment block, reminiscent of the nearby monasteries. Open spaces between the volumes create cracks running through the block, connecting its core to the surroundings. Winding passages reveal unexpected views towards rich and contrasted living environments, and work as a buffer to the neighbourhood. The cracks are intensely planted to form a wild garden, a fragment of urban nature nestled in the midst of a wide range of dwelling types: new built homes, lofts, ground-bound units with individual gardens, apartments of various sizes with access to private and public roof terraces and gardens. The network of green collective cores provides space for games and encounter.
Public amenities are strategically located to serve both residents and the neighbourhood. The ground floor of the once bustling Arts Academy is reactivated with an art shop in one wing, and a brasserie in the other. The spirit of the academy is kept alive through the creation of lofts for artists in residence, and an open space office for creatives, both situated on the first floor. The attic spaces, once working studios for artists are now dedicated to the display of art, becoming home to the Vanhaerents Art collection. Art spreads beyond the walls of the academy: a courtyard protected by ancient walls becomes a sculpture garden, the fire lookout tower a beacon for light installations…
Supplemented by a balanced mix of amenities, services and cultural components, living in the city becomes attractive to a wide public. Art enriches life while life humanizes art. The immediate proximity with living naturally takes any elitist aspect away from Art. Its social relevance demonstrates itself daily in a spontaneous, approachable and uplifting manner.