If we could live anywhere in Brussels, Belgium, this awesome housing project renovated from an old brewery would be high on our list. Cheval Noir is a collective housing project with 31 apartments expressly designed for artists. Located in between a public square and a canal, the building was adapted to improve circulation and openness as well as lighting. An additional zinc-clad building was added to provide more space, and it comes complete with modern amenities like an elevator. Topped with a domestic hot water system, Cheval Noir was brewed up through a collaboration between L'Escaut and Atelier Gigogne.
The architects sought to integrate as much of the original architecture and structural elements of the former Hallemans brewery as possible into the new design. In order to infuse the historic space with more daylight, parts of the north and south walls were blown out and new windows and skylights were added. An entire new contemporary wing was also built to increase the square footage and provide some necessary modern amenities. This zinc-clad tower, which stands above the rest of the buildings in the area, contains the elevator. Access to each apartment is provided by outdoor bridges and staircases.
The renovation of the brewery resulted in 31 open, loft-like apartments with no interior walls except for the bathroom. The open floor plan of each apartment allows the residents the flexibility to define their space according to their needs. Each apartment has views and windows in two directions (towards the water and the city) and operable windows for natural ventilation. Outdoor circulation encourages interaction amongst the residents, and the former smoke stack was converted into a barbecue for outdoor gatherings. A domestic hot water system has been installed on the roof for use throughout the building. The project began in 2003 and was completed in 2010.
Images ©Marc Detiffe