The project is the result of an Open Call competition in Belgium for the construction of a new community center, art center and library (VTC) in the center of Edegem, a suburban municipality close to the city of Antwerp, for which Marc Koehler Architects, in collaboration with Delobelle Architecten (Gent) and DELVA Landscape Architecture (Amsterdam/ Antwerp), have been awarded first prize with their design “The Missing Link”.
The design focuses on the strengthening of the suburban municipality center by providing the community with a new cultural hub that aims to reinforce the social life of the town, an important link in a chain of public spaces that the area was lacking.
The new VTC is also a very respectful intervention in a site of great heritage value due to the existence of a neo-flamish renaissance style villa, the House Hellemans art center, and garden from the 19th century which the new building embraces and preserves as a hidden gem within the municipality.
The program takes the form of two contrasting volumes, a higher four-story block that houses the library and a lower one-story glass pavilion in which the community center areas find its place. The higher block creates a dialog with the House Hellemans while the glass pavilion encloses the garden, giving it back the intimate character that it once had. From this new relation between the art center and the new VTC, a new cultural loop is generated around the garden which provides a very necessary space for relaxation, reading, exhibition and reflection.
The project also cleverly rethought the given program and added housing to it in order to generate extra value to the area, a privileged plot within the heart of Edegem, create more social control of the public spaces, and, with the selling of these new properties, increase the available budget in order to maximize the quality of the project and make it more sustainable and energy efficient.
The construction of the new VTC is in all respects a project of cooperation with the Edegem inhabitants. The input of residents was the base of the project’s program definition in the Open Call competition and also in the selection of the winning design. This cooperation between the designers and the community will follow along the entire design process, as the designers will work closely with the residents and future users to ensure that all demands and wished are fulfilled.
The construction is scheduled for late 2016.