Redevelopment of former textile factory and listed monument “de groote fabrieke”, doorniksesteenweg – avelgem

44 lofts / 10 offices / 2 trading premises

The industrial site is situated at Doornikse road, the road that connects Avelgem and Doornik, on the edge of the town centre and close to the former railway station. The site is very much a local landmark for the entire wider local area: the chimney and the main building can be seen from afar and are very much local landmarks. The site looks back at an intricate construction history. Over the years, the main building was repeatedly converted and expanded.

To ensure the long-term preservation of the listed site, a solid redevelopment plan was absolutely imperative. Continuing the former industrial function of the site was neither on the cards, nor was it particularly desirable, all the more so as industrial operations were unable to ensure the sustainable viability of the building. Which is why it was decided to go for a mix of purposes, covering residential, services and commercial as the main functions.

The architectural specificity of the site is visually dominant and is very much a local landmark. This acts to preserve the secluded nature of the site as one of its key characteristics. The existing factory walls are optimised in their original context, whereby visual piercings are planned in strategic places. For one thing, these piercings allow us to underscore the transition between the public and private estate, on the other hand they enable us to let in the local environs and create a bond with the surrounding community fabric and the landscape. The openings mollify the secluded nature of the site for the human users. This acts to create a sense of comfort and safety in a convivial inner area on the one hand, and maximum reciprocal interaction between the site and its setting on the other. Putting in place a delimited but non-isolated island within the fabric of the local community raises the unicity of the site whilst preserving its architectural specificity.

A mix of functions was one of the basic principles for the redevelopment of the site. Blending functions acts to secure a constant activity at the site whilst avoiding the emergence of single-purpose areas. In establishing the housing types, we purposively aspired to put in place a high level of differentiation. The residential units come with a large variation in living areas, depending on the location, orientation and the number of units. The floor right under the roof of the main building is set to become home to four penthouses. The design and material to be used for these units is based around the former cooling tower. The penthouses are built around a timber frame with wooden face cladding panels. To a large degree the penthouses will be prefabricated to keep the construction as reversible as possible.

The infill development within the main volume ensure a better quality living environment. Creating a zenithal opening serves to optimise the light incidence of all lofts, to the effect that south-facing terraces are planned for all units. The north side is scheduled to hold residential units and offices. On the ground floor, space is planned to cater for commercial functions or offices. Behind these shops and offices, the space is being fitted out as an open car park building.