Located in the centre of Antwerp, De Fierens is a social housing complex dating from the interwar years. It consists of a tall main block with internal courtyard and a lower L-shaped block. Stylistically, De Fierens recalls the brick modernism of the 1930s, which combined the achievements of new construction methods and building services with innovative Art Deco ornamentation. Typical of the complex is the well-considered use of materials and the refined, polychromatic exterior consisting of yellow melange facade brickwork and purplish-brown terracotta tiles for the base. The aim of the plan is to enhance the spatial unity of the two buildings. To that end, the buildings will be set on a shared floor and the intervening Creasbeekstraat will be transformed into a courtyard with restricted vehicle access. On the corner of Nationalestraat and Kronenburgstraat, the present corner building, which was not part of the complex, will be demolished and replaced by a new structure, which will be distinctive, yet closely aligned in proportions, colour and detailing with the architecture of the neighbouring volumes. To foster the permeability of the ensemble, the existing gateways will be opened up and a new gateway created in the corner building.
The new apartment layouts will reduce the housing stock to an assortment of around 125 dwellings while preserving as much of the basic structure as possible, given that the original details contribute greatly to the living experience. The street-level commercial spaces will be opened up by means of floor-to-ceiling shop windows. As an alternative to the relatively small functional balconies, the roof of De Fierens will be laid out as a shared garden that offers residents a spectacular view over the entire city.
AG Vespa with Molenaar & Co Architecten