GhentThe largest joint venture in Flanders opened in Ghent on Saturday. The population of 159 people owns their own apartment, but they share, for example, a kitchen, dining room or washing machine. “We have to deal more wisely with the scarce space that is available,” summarizes Stadsontwikkeling alderman Sami Souguir (Open VLD).
In 1997, Malmarfabriek, a mineral processing company, moved in, after which the site near Gent-Dampoort was in ruins for years. Until now. After eight years of preparation, Biegardhof was officially inaugurated. The largest “shared housing” project in Flanders could draw on a great deal of interest on Saturday.
“Cohousen definitely has a future because space is tight,” Mayor Matthias de Klerk (Open VLD) said at the opening. “If you go up in the air and build heavily, you can free up more open space. But also if you – with enough privacy – are more involved. That way you can provide more play space for the kids and more green space.”
(Read more below the photos)
The dilapidated piece of industrial heritage has been converted into a modern housing development where 59 families – enough for 159 residents – live sustainably. Bricks from demolished factory walls have been reused. Bijgaardehof is heated by geothermal energy, a geothermal heat pump.
“It was a dilapidated site here until Sogent (the urban development company) bought everything,” says local urban development councilman Sami Souguir (Open VLD). It is said that the demand for co-housing projects is increasing, and similar projects will be developed in Ghent in the future. “We have to conclude that space is limited. It will not increase. So we have to look at new concepts.”
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What also catches the eye is the private garden, or say “outdoor gallery”. Sometime in 2009 Roa broke into the Malmar factory. The graffiti artist whose work can easily be sold for €10,000 in galleries has sprayed his famous creatures on the walls. Due to the demolitions, a large part of the estimated fifty works have disappeared. But part of the walls in the common garden have been preserved.
Another bonus: who wants to visit the park. “The new park fits in well with the existing Bijgaarde Park, which itself has an area of about 2.5 hectares,” says certified local council member, Astrid De Bruycker (Vooruit). “By converting the former Malmar factory, 1,800 square meters of green space have now been added. The city of Ghent received about 247,000 euros in support from Europe.
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