Marc Koehler Architects designed Edegem, Belgium’s newest community center, as a symbol of sustainable design to represent this city south of Antwerp and its commitment to restoring the city for a sustainable future.

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An aerial view of a red-roofed building surrounded by trees.

The Edegem community center features timber construction with gardens, solar and heat pump systems, and a greywater system. It includes a library, community center, book cafe and exhibition space. The most important thing about the new Edegem community center, however, is how it allows Belgium’s government to explore new sustainable construction methods and future-proof public buildings by creating modular, adaptable spaces.

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A green lawn in front of two parallel buildings.

Opened in September 2021, the Edegem community center building was integrated with the Huis Hellemans exhibition center and its garden next door. The open spaces in the new community center that are now used as a library can be rearranged to work as mixed media, relaxing, work and meeting spaces in case the needs of the public change with time and technology.

A beige building with square windows and a castle-like building to the left of it.

According to Marc Koehler Architects, “The building reinvents the small-town cultural center for the digital age as a curated landscape of opportunities for inspiration and communication.”

A single-level beige building pointing toward an old brick building.

Timber was the building material of choice because the Belgian government wanted to explore alternative building technologies, flexible architecture and prefab construction. While timber is sometimes considered less sustainable as a resource, as a building material, it is healthy because it regulates humidity, absorbs noise, insulates a building, and is a bio-based resource that stores CO2 in its structure.

A children's reading and play room where a child sits on a half-circle-shaped bench.

The community center has a smart ventilation system, green roof, and is designed to be future-proof, with bookshelves that can be replaced by other media or reading and meeting spaces. The goal was to maintain the livability and viability of Edegem’s historic center as an inclusive place for all ages.

+ Marc Koehler Architects

Images via Marc Koehler Architects and © Dennis De Smet