Conversion of a historic building
Two historic retail properties in a unique location on Ghent’s Veldstraat and Korenmarkt are revived with a mixed shopping and residential project. Adding to the initial demand for optimisation of the retail space, an opportunity is seized to redevelop the vacant upper floors, with their authentic interiors and stunning city views, into apartments. Combining renovation with new construction, the two corner premises are merged into one project, with a spacious two-level shop premises on the ground floor, and five apartments centred around a communal patio on the upper floors.
The revaluation of the neo-gothic corner turreted house from 1885 is the point of departure in the design. The façades and the interior, as well as the spatial layout of the residential parts, are kept in their current form and attest to the historic transformations of the building. The addition of three modern zinc dormer windows, subtly reveals the new residential function of the attic space.
The adjacent premises at Van Stopenberghestraat are replaced by a new functional volume with supporting functions for the main building at Veldstraat (i.e. circulation, storage, technical installations, and terraces). The façade in white architectonic concrete and glass functions as the new wall facing the square of the ‘Kleine Korenmarkt’ and provides a contemporary answer to the historical context. Here the various functions – shopping, residential, outdoor space – hide behind a transparent ‘screen’ of slender concrete columns, referring in composition and rhythm to the original building layout and the pronounced verticality of the historic buildings.
In Schuurkenstraat the harmonic whole of red brick ‘alley facades’ is preserved in its materialisation and architectural design. Over a layer of old windows, balconies and chimneys, new window openings and a zinc roof volume are added, which contrast clearly in material and typology with the historical elements.
The fascinating mix of old and new, and shopping and housing, is what makes this a successful and uncompromised project. Thanks to its location, its spatial quality, and its architectural character, this development will revive the street’s vacant and dilapidated upper floor spaces, and make housing there attractive once again, both for the shopkeepers and for the future residents.