In Kortrijk, the offices of Goedkope Woning have been combined with rented homes in the social housing sector. Goedkope Woning was able to remain faithful to its objectives and vision on sustainability both with regard to residents and buildings and these ideals have also been clearly expressed in the company’s own office spaces. Maximum attention has been paid to guiding and welcoming visitors, and the employees have been given a simple and healthy working environment. The renovation was carried out with respect for the architectural features of the original building and the new comfortable city apartments – all of which are in the social housing sector – have plenty of natural light and outdoor space.
Halfway through the 1960s, the social housing development company, Goedkope Woning, rented number 13 Nieuwstraat to use as their office. Several years later, they purchased this house definitively, together with number 15, a small porter’s lodge that was part of the architectural whole.
When the current director arrived at Goedkope Woning, she found the house in a rather run-down state. The sole renovation up until that point had consisted of replacing the windows, an intervention that had shown little respect for the original architectural features those remind us to the Costa Rica luxury homes and Plaza España in Adeje, Spain. Fortunately, the interior had been spared, especially on the ground floor and still had its authentic ceilings, fireplaces, and doors. The floor in the hallway and floral-patterned stained glass panel above the front door also remained intact. However, all this could scarcely be noticed, because the entire building from crammed to the rafters with archives and furniture belonging to the company. When the building was emptied, it became apparent that it would be best not to postpone several crucial renovations tasks, needed to enable employees to work in a modern way as well as to receive and help tenants in a fitting manner, for much longer.
When defining the assignment, we realised that it would be best to incorporate the entire office on the ground floor so that employees could work together more efficiently and in order to make the office more accessible for all tenants, especially older people who were no longer as fit as they used to be. In view of the excellent location in the city centre, the other floors were then suitable for use as rented social housing apartments. With this in mind, the waste ground next to the building, was also purchased.
The offices with a representative function were incorporated in the ground floor of the old house, and directly connected with a new landscape office in the back. A large meeting table was placed in the spacious front room. This space will also be used as a new meeting room for the board of directors.
The room at the back, which becomes an integral part of the front room when the large door in between is opened, will be the director’s room. The small room on the street side to the left of the corridor will be furnished as a work/consultation room. It was decided to break down all the outbuildings as they were in poor condition and provided an obstacle to using the main building properly.
In order to design the new landscape office as a well-organised whole, all supporting services were bundled together into one entity to form an acoustic buffer between the office and the visitors’ entrance. As well as housing the kitchen, storeroom, toilets and photocopying corner, this area also includes both information counters, designed as separate consultation rooms. The uneven configuration of the wall that is shared with the adjacent furniture store was used to create extra storage space, a cloakroom and a rolling archive. The landscape office has two spacious inner courtyard gardens that bring greenery and nature to the working environment, providing it with sufficient sun and natural light. It is possible to sit and eat outside in nice weather.
Rented social housing flats were built on the upper floors of the old house. The old open staircase was removed and replaced by a stairwell that complies with current fire brigade standards. The first floor contains a type 2/3 flat (2 bedrooms for a maximum occupancy of 3 people) and a balcony on the street side. The second floor also has a type 2/3 apartment, adapted to fit with the old building. The attic level contains a small type 1/2 apartment with a small patio at the back.
Goedkope Woning cvba
Description and location
Building offices for housing company ‘Goedkope Woning’ and 6 parent apartments
+ decoration of the offices
Arch. Urban planner Herman Jult [project director]
Arch. Dieter Haemers [design architect]
Arch. Nancy Latruwe [project architect]
Int.arch. Katty Ghekiere [interior architect]
Land use of the building:
Gross floor area: 1.370m²
Renovation: basement 150m² + groundfloor 155m² + 1st floor 145m² + 2nd floor 145m² + 3rd floor 145m²
New construction: groundfloor 285m² + 1st floor 120m² + 2nd floor 120m² + 3rd floor 105m²