By provoking action and reaction between past and present through the application of contemporary architecture, the remodeling of this entire block of buildings—including landmark buildings such as Hooghuys and the former Lorette convent—adheres to this evolutionary principle.
The new development, Melano, is located between Hooghuys and Sweert. This apartment building deliberately leans towards Sweert and distances from Hooghuys, with a specific tension created by the cantilever on the first floor. The white brick architecture is a response to the partly lime-washed, partly plastered facade of Hooghuys and the classic uniform gables of Sweert. Covered terraces create a dialogue with the two-dimensionality of the historic facades on Drabstraat. In turn, integrated vertical lighting strips not only draw attention to the contemporary facade and, therefore, celebrate modern life, they also light the street and thereby dispense a contemporary idea of interaction with the public space.
This building is also key to the restructuring of the site. As water finds its meandering way through the landscape, this project is devoted to the penetrable. The new building provides passage, by means of a raised point of contact with Hooghuys, for an alley that runs into the rear courtyard. The repurposed garden is a nod to the formerly sizeable Hooghuys garden, which reached Begijnenstraat and therefore provided access to the market square. Three centuries later, however, this area of greenery was closed off from Begijnenstraat by the L-shaped Lorette convent and girls’ school. The neo-gothic building highlights the impact of a closed and withdrawn religious community on a town. This voluminous wall is now broken through on the ground level to allow access to the Fish Market through a semi-public area that succeeds the playground that was once the Hooghuys garden. City dwellers are drawn into a place of alleys and squares.
Principal: City Site/Van Poppel
Team: dmvA / David Driesen, Tom Verschueren / Valérie Lonnoy/
Location: Drabstraat 6–10, 2800 Mechelen, Belgium
General contractor: Bouwbedrijf Van Poppel nv
Engineer: Jan Van Aelst
Built area: Restoration Hooghuys (965 m2), Apartments and parking (3770 m2)
Photography: Bart Gosselin
Computer program: Archicad 19
Born 1970 in Hoogstraten, Belgium. Studied architecture at the Henry van de Velde College in Antwerpen. Graduated in 1993.
Post-graduated in Monument—and Landscape in Antwerpen, 1995.
Started the office for architecture dmvA in 1997, together with his friend David Driesen.
Born in 1968 in Duffel, Belgium. Graduated architecture, specialization urban planning, in 1992 at Sint Lucas, Brussels.
Post-graduated in Monument—and Landscape in 1995, Antwerpen, where he met Tom Verschueren.
Teacher architecture at KU Leuven.
Both architects want to express themselves by means of architecture, which is where the Dutch abbreviation dmvA stands for (door middel van Architectuur)
Together with their team of architects they completed several private and public projects, such as offices, apartments, sports accommodation, schools, social housing, private houses, shop interiors and art projects. Occasionally design objects are created.
Commissions are frequently won in competition and many of them were (inter) nationally nominated or received national awards.
Several publications in special books and magazines.
In 2014 they released their book Some Thing, Some Things, Some Thinkings about dmvA.