Herfstvreugde Genk

Living together in a generous modernistic casco

Living on the edge of the city is more than just living. A building where people live together strengthens social cohesion and has a favorable influence on ownership of park and building. The choice to not claim most of the park, to let it go wild and be an oasis for the neighborhood and its residents, proves the intentions on a 'meso' scale.


In Genk, a younger 'Grid City', we can see how different objects have landed in the landscape. We think of the hospital, elderly homes and school buildings, they help form the character of the city. Herfstvreugde, in a modest form, takes part in this. It is located in a green environment on the edge of the Kempish plateau. The transition on one side of the building is not gradual but rather abrupt and the difference in height with the Europalaan is significant.


The context provides the conditions and unique opportunities for a qualitative residential environment that will not only benefit the resident. The site is currently grafted onto the car, squeezed by a road that separates the former retirement home from its immediate green surroundings. The relationship between the built-up area and its surroundings can therefore be greatly improved. But the relationship between the subareas themselves and the wider surroundings also play a crucial role. The previous efforts of the 'RUP Richter', where a network of soft connections are drawn, prevails in the design. The arrangement of traffic flows is therefore one of the starting points. We completely separate soft and hard traffic. The supra-local bicycle route network can safely connect to the soft link that will run east of Herfstvreugde. The road around the building will be removed to only serve the current driveway. This will allow us to break the one-sided relationship between building and nature. We cited in the past Peter Doig's dreamy paintings of le Corbusier's Unité d'Habitation, the building surrounded by an arcadia of greenery.


The key to a good collective project lies in shaping and recharging the spaces between the public and private worlds. Our first focus is therefore on the outdoor spaces. An outdoor space that encourages a healthy lifestyle, an outdoor space that invites appropriation. It is our ambition to demineralize, to centralize the bicycle route and to orchestrate the transition from interior to green space without barriers. This is related to the regional ambition of Vlaanderen Breekt Uit. In this sense we also endorse the need to keep the footprint limited.


Collective living is a broad concept. Herfstvreugde exemplifies this to the maximum. As well in the excess of the existing building and in collective spaces from the basement as to the roof and in inspiring outdoor spaces. Parking is solved in the basement and in a semi-underground parking structure. The difference in height of the site ensures that the impact of the new structure remains limited. The roof of the parking lot will become a common space for the residents and visitors. By resolving the traffic flows, the existing and new zones of use are marked out in the design. The forested environment already offers many benefits that can be exploited: forestation is the optimal means to prevent heat stress in the residential environment, enable water infiltration and store CO2 emissions in the soil and in biomass. It provides an adventurous play space for children where the green environment reduces stress and contributes to the quality of life.


Finally, this project is an important contribution to the development of a Limburg ecosystem around circular building. In collaboration with MOSARD we looked for an appropriate detailing within the theme. In this way, we deal with the Limburg Green Deal that SalkTurbo puts forward in a climate-conscious way. We take maximum advantage of what is already there. Herfstvreugde asks to become a contemporary and habitable complex and to register everyday activities in a modernistic casco.






Genk, Belgium






Skyline Europe


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