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Machelen Masterplan Town Centre

Machelen is a small town in the outskirts of Brussel, wedged in between the Brussel beltway, airport Zaventem and the industrial zone along the channel of Vilvoorde. How does one create a pleasant, healthy living environment in these brutal conditions? Rather than finishing the perimeter blocks and providing buildings in the inner area, we choose to literally 'develop' the building blocks and fold them inwards. This creates spaces that are private, but do not squander the last latent village qualities. On the scale of the village, they combine a strong development with the necessary introversion and small happiness. Their size varies, depending on the location, from a small workmans' close to a new village square for the sports hall

The first step in the ambitious redevelopment of the town center, as part of a competition we won with Matexi, 360 Architects and HUB, is a daycare center with six dwellings. 

Daycare and houses 

Client: Matexi
In collaboration with: BUUR, 360 architecten, HUB
Technical engineering: CES
Structural engineering: IRS
Landscape: BUUR
Art: Virginie Bailly

MAM18.100 P-SCHE00
1. FINAAL_20161021 masterplan PARKINGS (AC)_2

Living architecture

In the appearance of the buildings in the four other courtyard-shaped residential clusters, we embrace the scale of living and the familiar. Recognizability is a goal. New buildings are components of the environment. They borrow qualities from it, but also give back, in a reciprocal way. They steer and push the space between them into framed, measured open spaces with a clear statute. They communicate with their users and passers-by, in a meaningful articulation of volume and facade.

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MAM16.600 S-221006 render 3 (872 x 1310)

Bulk architects

MAM16.600 S-221006 render (872 x 1310)

Hub architects

MAM18.600 S-221010 buurtpark

360 architects



Opposite the Woluwelaan, with its heavy lorry traffic, a U-shaped, double height, courtyard building is placed. The shape of the building, including a big veranda playground, has been specifically chosen to offer its inhabitants, 72 small children and 6 families, protection against noise and fine dust pollution. The buildings main materials are yellow brick (main façades and separation walls) and wooden planks (facing the garden and the big box stores near the Woluwelaan). The users share a communal garden, in which a cheerful garden shed, designed by artist Virginie Bailly, stands in the shadow of a beautiful Ash tree.

MAM16.600 P-230921 foto gevel vanaf straatkant
MAM16.600 S-230921 foto in tuin
MAM16.600 S-221010 foto woningen
MAM16.600 S-230921 foto in tuin zicht op bestaande architectuu
MAM16.500 M - maq04
MAM16.500 M - maq07
MAM16.600 S-230921 interieur akoestische panelen
MAM16.600 S-230921 interieur
MAM16.600 S-230921 eerste verdiep hal
MAM16.600 S-230921 interieur kinderopvang
MAM16.600 S-230921 interieur kinderopvang 2
MAM16.600 S-230921 straatbeeld
MAM16.600 S-230921 abstract beeld gevel
MAM16.600 S-230921 woningen in omgeving Machelen

Workmans' close

A small but nice workmans’ close is the second project we realize within this master plan.
On the street side, the grain and color scheme of the existing buildings is continued, as an almost literal extrusion along the two sides. A stately apartment block forms the locomotive of the train. As antipode, a couple of terraced houses acts as a little brother. In the intermediate size, between these two gatehouses, just at the bend of the street, there is room for an elongated courtyard . This mews-like space addresses 4 terraced houses with a private garden and 2 dwellings in the gatehouse, which functions as the pinnacle of the composition and at the same time allows an informal passage to the larger courtyard, a design by HUB.


MAM18.600 P-221010-gevelcollage Cornelis Peetersstraat 1 (436x1310)
MAM18.600 P-221010-gevelcollage Cornelis Peetersstraat 2 (436x1310)
MAM16.600 S-221019 plan Beluik +0 (grijs)!
MAM16.600 S-221019 plan Beluik +2pdf
MAM18.600 S-221006 foldout beluik (436x1310)
MAM16.600 P-20161017 - beluik woning
MAM16.600 P-20161017 - beluik rijwoning
MAM16.600 P-20161017 - beluik kopgebouw

The relief and detailing contribute to the legibility of the private homes, while the buildings on the street side echo the beautiful provincial interwar modernism that adorns the entire neighbourhood. The visible partition walls celebrate the transition between the two regimes.

MAM18.600 S-221019 (1013x872) schets