What would prove most attractive to you when looking to rent or buy in a high-rise development?
How about the possibility of establishing meaningful and long-lasting friendships with your neighbors?
Neighborly rapport and camaraderie is the main draw at a striking, 24-story apartment tower proposed for the Nieuw Zuid section of bustling Belgian seaport city Antwerp. Designed by venerable Danish firm C.F. Møller Architects in collaboration with Brussels-based Brut Architecture and Urban Design, the 116-unit complex is envisioned as a “vertical social community” — a close-knit cul-du-sac reimagined as a sleek high-rise inserted into the middle of a gritty cityscape.
Explain the architects:
The architectural idea of the building is derived from an inside-out perspective, where the social qualities of the building are a dominant driver for the design: Often in tall buildings, the sense of community amongst the occupants is challenged by the fact that you hardly ever meet your neighbours, except coming and going via the lobby and at the lifts. In contrast, this design proposes to become a sustainable and collective community, where social interaction is enabled and encouraged in numerous ways without compromising the need for privacy. The proposal contains a large selection of apartments reaching out to a diverse group of inhabitants, from small types suitable for student co-housing to larger family and live-work types, all grouped into vertical mini-communities.
While this might all sound perfectly hellish to those who prefer their interactions with fellow tenants to remain firmly on the nod-of-acknowledgement-and-maybe-a-quick-smile-on-occasion level, it’s a tremendously smart concept that doesn’t exactly force friendships between neighbors but, by design, makes nurturing them a bit easier. And as anyone whose read J.G. Ballard’s 1975 dystopian novel “High-Rise” could tell you, having a close ally living across the hall probably isn’t a bad idea.
While C.F. Møller’s proposed high-rise isn’t quite the isolating, self-contained universe depicted in Ballard’s novel, it does have its own commercial and retail spaces so that, theoretically, one could live, work, shop, and, most importantly, socialize, without ever stepping foot outside. Mingle-friendly communal features include a verdant rooftop terrace on the fifth floor — for “office workers and residents alike” — and a “triple-height green oasis” with sweeping views located at the top of the building. There’s also a communal dining room available to residents who would rather not dine alone in their own units.
In terms of the distinct “vertical mini-communities” located within the tower, each is compartmentalized and connected, via balcony, to a glass-enclosed winter garden. Wrapped around the brick and concrete volume, it’s these semi-outdoor living spaces that make up the tower’s unique inside-out "gridded envelope" appearance. From the exterior, the high-rise appears to be completely enclosed in a glass display case of sorts complete with different individual compartments.
In addition to fostering healthy relationships between neighbors who might otherwise spend most of their time holed up in their individual units, the building, designed to meet passive house standards, also promotes energy efficiency.
Via [Co.Design], [Designboom]
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