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ABOVE THE EXISTING new spatial possibilities on existing row houses

| ursulamendo

ABOVE THE EXISTING new spatial possibilities on existing row houses

| ursulamendo

Master Dissertation Project Academic Promoter | Martino Tattara Studio | Homes for Flanders Academic year 2017-2018 International Master of Science in Architecture KU Leuven, Faculty of Architecture Campus Sint-Lucas Ghent

| acknowledgements Accomplishing one’s goals goes beyond dreaming, daring and doing, it takes courage, patience and support from your closest ones and those you meet on the way. To my parents and brother, to whom I am forever grateful for their support, encouragement and endless love. To Thomas, my maximum motivation and motor through these challenging but rewarding years. To the Pollet-Destoop family for making of Belgium my true second home. The completion of this master dissertation project could not have been possible without the guidance of my academic promoter Martino Tattara to whom I am honored to have worked with. To all the people that contributed with time, ideas and different perspectives that helped to the development of my project. My dreams and ambition took me here, my strength and goals made me keep going.









the SITE


what lies above ROOF& ATTICS



16 18

22 28



THE EXISTING new spatial possibilities on existing row houses






| foreword There are approximately 2,600,000 homes in Flanders, which is half of the total dwellings all over Belgium. These dwellings are spread around the Flemish territory and a 14% growth is foreseen by 2030. The Flemish culture and former building policy encouraged the idea of scattered urbanization allowing people to own big houses with big gardens outside the cities. Since the spatial surface is limited and increasing space demand is unquestionable, today policies promote the densification and renovation of the existing built environment especially in cities and to plan compacter housing infrastructure accompanied by a strong offer of public open space and services. A possible solution for achieving compacter housing models could be achieved by promoting shared spatial possibilities not only to be suggested in new projects like cohousing, or living cooperatives, but also to be implemented in the existing housing stock. The Master Dissertation Studio, Homes for Flanders. Investigating housing affordability seeks for alternatives that would contribute in solving the Flemish housing crisis, to succeed at this an affordable, sustainable and including plan should be developed.  

|10. INTRO

|Leandro Erlich Pulled by the Roots, 2015 Installation Bretten, Germany


energy invested in created new materials are very high, and that the zero impact condition can only be achieved after 100 years2.

Changing demographics, new family patterns and new social groups are transforming the demand for living, working and recreation spaces. These social changes have direct impact on the way the built environment has to be designed, built, occupied, maintained and adapted from now on. The world as we know it today will not be the same in the next decade. So as it is not anymore what it used to be ten years ago. Population growth comes hand in hand with an increasing demand of new housing. It is expected that by 2050, 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities. Aware of this and due to the vast old housing stock Belgium has, Flemish Government Architect1 has shaped the policy to densify the cities by substituting no longer functional constructions into well performing dwellings that can host greater amounts of people in the same surface. The majority of the current Belgian housing stock is at least 35 years old, and only 30% of the current houses in Flanders where built after 1981. There is a massive amount of houses that no longer comply to today’s safety norms and energetic standards so for the Flemish government an easy solution is to simply replace them.

In the book How Buildings Learn, Steward Brand explains how the components of buildings have different lifespans, and that different parts of the constructions change and evolve at different rates from each other. The design cycle of a house goes from the minimal decoration elements that can be easily replaced, up to the structure which can last hundreds of years and the site itself that cannot be replaced3.

Even though, old houses are being demolished to create new houses that comply to the new regulations, the study conducted by Simon Sturgis in 2013, A Low Carbon Strategy, states that it is energetically more efficient to adapt and existing house to today’s energetic standards than building a new zero impact home. He proves that the cost and

Rethinking the built environment might not be the easiest, fastest or cheapest solution but it is worth proposing alternatives and create awareness about the possibilities existing houses can comprise.

1 Bouwmeester, or Flemish Government Architect stands for the figure in the government that represents how architecture should be conducted in Flanders. It is an independent figure that establishes policy, and the framework in which architecture should be approached. It is a five year position that in 2018 is in hands of Leo Van de Broek. 2 Demolished buildings may make financial sense but adaptation is the sustainable option, Simon Sturgis’s research. Architects’ Journal. 3 Brand, Stewart. How Buildings Learn. Viking Press. New York. 1994


We are used to constantly replacing things, and the rapid technological innovations often blurs us from their real (embedded) value of things. Architecture has become part of our environment and we cannot simply dispose it. When thinking about completely demolishing a property to create a new construction from scratch we are easily getting rid of the past, neglecting the existing and overlooking the possibilities of transforming what already exists.

The occupancy of a construction has also different occupancy cycles. Activities, family structures and needs change through time; some activities prevail, some evolve and some disappear. When activities and uses no longer match the spatial configuration in a building it becomes obsolete. If it is not possible to adapt a building the most common solution is to demolish it. It is true that old constructions start being obsolete in terms of energetic efficiency, room flexibility and poor ventilation and light conditions but is demolition the only alternative? Demolition costs are not only high but the amount of debris result of demolition is unsustainable and seem incompatible with existing environmental policies in Belgium and all over Europe.

“Each building is in a process of

permanent change. The big challenge is guiding and lifting the heritage to a higher

ambition level.�

|12. INTRO. Open to Change

|Leo van Broeck Flemish Government Architect

| Open to change When thinking about rehabilitation of the old built environment, historical buildings and industrial facilities are the first to be considered, thanks to their generous spatial qualities. Thinking of rehabilitating smaller buildings such as working class housing is a bigger challenge because their dimensions and spatial layout don’t allow immediate flexibility. We add value to our perception of the physical/ spatial environment but also the people that live in it give value to an area. The context where buildings, people and organizations are placed is constantly changing. But as Steward Brand says not everything changes at the same rate or is affected by its context in the same way . Neither the frequency, magnitude nor duration of change has constant impact across different situations. Change is a subjective natural phenomenon; what changes for some people might not have the same impact for other. Some people refuse to change because they experience a sense of loss, other people don’t realize that change can be irreversible.

New strategies need to be implemented to approach and manage change successfully. The idea is to find a balance between the existing built environment and how we can contribute to improve it without simple getting rid of it. At the same time promoting a stronger social cohesion through design to reinforce the sense of belonging and to avoid that these built spaces will fall again in decay. Researching the way traditional renovations are carried out today will lead to propose an innovative, environmental conscious solutions for the 21st century. The aim of this project is to find alternative solutions for non-conventional housing renovations that add value to the properties by finding new living environments from obsolete housing layouts.

1 Marus, Thomas. Building Conversion and Rehabilitation. Desiging for change. London . 1979


When we see a decaying area is not just the physical deterioration we are looking at but a manifestation of the lack of interest and therefore financial withdrawal of that particular place1. Physical improvement is not enough on its own , it is the total system that requires attention. The upgrading and maintenance of our environment is essential to overcome decay, looking at existing common buildings and finding alternatives to regenerate them will maximize the value of the built environment as it will contribute to a greater sense of belonging of its users.

|14. Housing Market in Belgium

|Housing market in Belgium Buying New or Renovate?

Since the 1970s a decrease in new housing ownership has been perceived in Belgium, in 1973 50% of the people that bought a house bought a new house, by 1990 only 25% of the people bought new houses, the purchasing of existing houses is in half of the cases linked to renovation which explains the gradual increment of residential quality2. Therefore, there has been a decrease in construction of new single family housing in the past 20 years. Nevertheless, a big percentage of the current stock is still considered low quality housing. The Disadvantaged Neighbourhoods Plan represents dwellings in bad conditions from which at least 50% dwellings were built before 1945, and more than 40% don’t have central heating. According to the study conducted by the dwelling developing company Blavier, It will take approximately 90 years to renovate all the current existing houses3. Nowadays, the housing market in Belgium is marked by a clear division between new constructions and homes for renovation. To compare prices between these two can also be a tricky challenge. It seems to be a matter of perspective and of having a calculated strategy to being able to prove than one is better than the other. In general terms, house renovations seem cheaper because they allow people to finance the renovation through time and according to the user’s needs. 1 De grote Immoweb-enquête 2011: De Belgen en hun huis . 2 Architecture Workroom Brussels. Naar een visionaire woningbouw (Eindrapport). Vlaams Bouwmeester. Brussels. 2012 3 Trendrapport van de Woningmarkt 2016. Blavier

On the other hand, new constructions require a big initial investment which makes it less accessible to many young people. After the purchasing of an existing house only 30% of the owners can make an investment for the renovation of their house of more than €60.000. This seems just like a minimum amount if taken into consideration that many affordable houses require mayor investments to put up to date.

The average Belgian buys its first house at the age of 30 when their purchasing capacity increases but is not strong enough to buy their dream new house. The average first home is usually for renovating, mostly because they have to and not by choice. Opposing opinions debate whether it is better to build a new house or renovate an existing property. Remodeling a house requires a lot of time, money and physical investment even after the purchasing of the property and can take the owner several years to achieve a fully equipped house. Long term cost are confronted against the added value a house could have. Architects, builders, economist and even the government have different perspectives about both alternatives. The 2008 house boom in Belgium resulted in over valuated property prices. In the 2010 report of the Belgian Economy Department (FOD Economie) stated that the number of households were growing faster than the population, meaning that there are


70% of the Belgian housing stock was built before 1981 which means that there is a lot of market for renovation and new construction. The housing market in Belgium can be divided into two: dwellings for private use and dwellings for renting. Private use dwellings are commonly in better conditions than those used to rent. Private house owners express a bigger satisfaction towards the condition of their homes compared to those people who rent1.

| Analyzing costs more houses built than those occupied4. Many of the unoccupied properties are now on sale and between the discussion if they should be demolished or renovated. Most of these unoccupied dwellings are destined for renting and in most of the cases do not comply to the energy efficiency norms, for some people this is a good reason why to get rid of them. Looking into the Belgian current housing stock is key to the development of this project. Looking for alternative affordable ways of improving the condition of these narrow houses could only be possible after analyzing current building renovation costs. These will serve as indicator of the different areas that require more investment and knowing them will derive in possible solutions.

The city of Ghent realized a case study booklet Smal Bouwen Ruim Wonen (Small Construction, Spacious Living) where 21 row houses are renovated in 3 categories from light renovation to new construction1. The examples illustrate how people could improve the condition of their house according to their investment possibilities. All projects are based on 4 meter wide houses and are easily comparable by surface and go from 85-114 m2. Most of these projects where executed between 2013 and 2015. After analyzing the renovation costs of these houses and comparing them to current market prices it is evident that, changing or building a new saddle roof represents upto 23% of the total budget of a renovation. Replacing the roofs are also between the top 5 areas of the house that are intervened when renovating. This figures make evident that despite containing underused spaces, roof renovations carry a important percentage of a person’s budget and should be thought through beyond a necessary task to execute in a house.

|16. Analyzing Costs

*An extended visualization of the cost and parameters can be consulted in the appendix.

4 Belgium’s housing market. Something to worry about?. Chief Economist Department KBC Groep. 2013


Balthazar, Tom ( Stad Gent). Smal Bouwen, Ruim Wonen. Ghent. 2013

Type of Renovation Plot lenght (m) Plot Area (m2) Built Lenght (m) Built Area Bedrooms 1. Demolition 2. Structural works 3. Exterior works and windows 4. Roof 5. Electrical installation 6. Sanitary installation 7.Warming 8. Floors 9. Plasterwork Total without tax General Total $/m2 without taxes

€ € € € € € € € € € € €

Light 12 48 8 96m2 2 2,740.00 11,450.50 10,987.90 17,237.50 4,474.00 12,402.00 12,275.00 2,220.00 7,624.77 81,411.67 86,296.37 848.04

* 3% 14% 13% 21% 5% 15% 15% 3% 9%

€ € € € € € € € € € € €

Deep 12 48 8 96m2 2 7,479.16 18,910.53 11,497.47 18,494.93 4,474.00 12,402.00 12,265.00 2,764.00 8,748.63 97,035.71 102,857.85 1,010.79

* 8% 19% 12% 19% 5% 13% 13% 3% 9%

€ € € € € € € € € € € €

New 12 48 8 102m2 1 16,500.00 42,879.57 16,547.05 19,085.03 4,114.00 8,311.00 9,413.00 2,802.00 2,798.25 123,946.12 149,974.80 1,215.16

13% 35% 14% 16% 3% 7% 8% 2% 2%

* Percentage from total costs


Costs from Smal Bouwen Ruim Wonen, 2013. Considere 5.63% inflation for 2018

|18. Finding a site

| Finding a site Cities like Ghent keep attracting people besides the high housing prices thanks to its infrastructure and quality of services. Ironically, West and East Flanders have the average cheapest properties and the biggest percentage of potential buyers1. The City Urban Planning (RSP) foresees areas for development in Gent center, periphery and outskirts. Most of the perifery is highly occupied by single family neighborhoods. Even though the city proposes densification in the borders there will still be demand for single family houses.

According to a poll implemented by the real estate agency ImmoWeb in Flanders the top 5 characteristics a potential buyer looks into their future home is as follows: 1. Location 2. Size 3. Accessibility 4. Neighborhood 5. Services 6. Construction style 7.Mobility 8. Points of interest around the house 9. Language spoke in the neighborhood Based on these, a preliminary selection of houses for sale in between €150. 000 - €230. 000 have been selected. In these price range the properties have between 95m2-110m2 of built living areas, 2-3 bedrooms, and1 bathroom. The selection of the site comes about a real research through Belgian housing market in Ghent taking as parameters the average house price, the average loan and paying capacity of people between 30-39 years old, and the top list of priorities people in East Flanders give when looking for a house. The results are mostly old narrow row houses in the city’s edge. These houses were mostly built in the 19th century and have been renovated multiple times since. As mentioned before, old houses are left for sale due to their noncompliance to new energy standards and are left for renovating. Most of these houses have the following characteristics:

Single family row houses 1-3 bedrooms narrow (3.8m-6m wide) long (from 9-15 meter long)

|Areal photo of the Ghent metropolitan area 1 De grote Immoweb-enquête 2011: De Belgen en hun huis.

As starting point, a house located in Meibloemstraat 63 in the northwest neighborhood Brugse Poort is selected, the neighborhood has been in the spotlight for the last decade and seems to have a very promising future.


Most of the properties do not have: parking garage, private garden. Still these features will be highly appreciated by potential buyers. A survey realized by housing developer Blavier, showed that 82% of the interviewed would never considere living in a house without garden or terrace.

|20. Brugse Poort

the SITE

BRUGSE POORT Located on the north west edge of the city of Ghent, the Brugse Poort is a dense neighborhood with narrow housing, small streets and little green, typical of the 19th century belt neighborhoods in Ghent. At the beginning of the year 2000 the Planning department of Ghent decided to regenerate this popular neighborhood as one of the first approaches to transform decadent areas. The transformation meant not only renewing the spatial structure but also paying attention to socioeconomic and cultural initiatives. One of the city’s first approaches was to demolish some of the narrow and cluttered housing to give space to new open squares and parks. Today the area is rising up, people are coming into the parks, and young families are buying and renovating the existing houses.


|Areal photo of the Brugse Poort area surrounded by the rivers Coupure and Leie



The former Waalpoort and today Brugse Poort belonged to the second city wall of the 14th century medieval city of Ghent. Nevertheless, the area will only be of key importance in the 19th century thanks to the industrial revolution and its proximity to the river Coupure which linked Bruges and Ghent, becoming a perfect location for big factories specially those transforming metals , cotton and fabrics. La Lys, was the biggest textile factory of the area which became the first factory in Ghent to fully work with electricity in 1892. It was prominent and successfully, it gave work to more than 3000 people, 2000 from which were women. The industry grew fast and so the need for extra working force. Between 1860- 1890 to the north of those factories groups of houses or beluiken were quickly built to support the amount of new workers coming to the city. These houses were built without control nor urban or sanitary regulations. The chaotic pattern of its streets are a reflection of these lack of planning.

Different civil organizations have come to make of the area a strong bonding neighborhood like very few around the city. The efforts to bring up the decaying neighborhood are paying off and what used to be and undesirable place is slowly being transformed thanks to the renovations people do after buying a house. Besides being in the edge of Ghent, housing prices were relatively low compared to other areas in the city. Today the neighborhood is becoming hip thanks to its diverse (multi)cultural offer and its opening to change.

|22 .The Site |Brugse Poort

In 1945 the textile industry in Ghent started to disappear, all factories stared closing their doors leaving behind one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. The cheap houses were the only affordable house for new working class immigrants. After the World War II many of these beluiken were demolished only be replaced by small row-houses destined once more for the working class. Nowadays, there are 19.145 inhabitants1 from 101 nationalities living in a limited surface of 2.5km2, making the Brugse Poort five times denser that rest of the city. Open space is limited and low quality, that is why the the former chief of the Environment department of Ghent, Tom Baltazar promoted the Oxygen for the Brugse Poort program at the beginging of 2000. This program focuses on the construction of new building and renovations but also incorporates social programs to improving people quality of life.

1 Bevolking 2018 - Brugse Poort – Rooigem. Stads Gent 2018.

|Plan of the Brugse Poort illustrating the amount of housing agroupations or beluiken in 1904. Archiefbeelden Gent , Deel V. Beluiken, Poortjes en Cités.

|Beluiken in the Brugse Poort, 1903. Archiefbeelden Gent , Deel V. Beluiken, Poortjes en Cités.

19,145 in habit ant s

7540/ km2 101


9,133 households family dwellings 53% = single 43% singles 23% couples

24% families 10% eldery

built 70% before

1940 average

house surface

101m 226.134 14% 2

average price




new building projects


people leaving the area

|24.The Site |Brugse Poort

| Infrastructure


| Narrow Row Houses

|26. The Site |Brugse Poort

| Public and Private Green Areas


| Paved open spaces


|28. The Site. Meibloemstraat

The Meibloemstraat is a 400 meter long street located in the center of the Burgse Poort. It is a particular street because in it connects the neighborhood community center, two parks, a former bowling venue, a community development organization and two big stores, all these without interfering with its mostly residential atmosphere. The house selected in Meibloemstraat 63, is a 90m2 19th century home lastly renovated in 1976. It has poor living conditions: no central heating, only one working fireplace in the ground floor to heat all the house, one small bathroom, one double glassing window out of six, a rotten broken roof completely exposed to the current living spaces underneath. These characteristics are highly representative of the houses in the area. Despite the weak points, other characteristics make of this type of house and interesting starting point for the project. Its proximity to the city center, its high ceilings, and a particular location in the neighborhood. The houses of the Meibloemstraat No. 63-73, together with the houses of Madeliefjesstraat No. 1- 45 have direct access to a common back garden Het Boerderijpark which is a public park formerly a school and private gardens. One of the first projects of the Zuurstoof for the Brugse Poort was to remove the school and negotiate with the neighbors to open up their gardens to achieve a big common back yard with direct access from their homes.



|what lies above ROOFS&ATTICS

In the search of better quality housing, young families leave the city looking for bigger spaces and to fulfill having their dream home or “huisje, boomje, tuinje”1 existing houses in the city are becoming more expensive and therefore households with two incomes or low income households find better housing opportunities outside the city. Better alternatives should be provided for those who wish to remain in the city. Tackling the problem of existing low quality housing will open the possibility for those who wish to remain in the city and to constrain as much as possible the effect of suburbanization. According to the City Urban Planning (RSP) the already populated Brugse Poort area is not intended to be densified in the future, and will still be considered as a mainly single family home neighborhood. Since most of the housing stock here is not in optimal conditions it most be physically rehabilitated offering spaces for the new spatial demands. The dimensions of these former working class row houses are undeniably tight, even by traditionally renovating the house, the user will remain with a limited amount of square meters. An attic is the spaces under a saddle or pitched roof that is commonly used as storage. Because of the tilted roof that protects the house, attics are usually neglected spaces or awkwardly filled rooms to add extra rooms to a house. In narrow houses such as those in the Meibloemstraat, the space under the roof will equally be narrow and small, nevertheless they will imply a significant amount of the user’s budget. Most roofs in the Brugse Poort (and in Ghent) need to be urgently substituted.

Even though the average price per square meter for a new roof excluding structure and taxes in 2018 is only €170, the cost-benefit ratio is uneven, people invest in a new roof, the energetic performance of the house improves, but still the space under it stays the same. It is a fact that better insulated roofs perform better in terms of energetic consumption; it is also a fact that in order to have a better performing house you do not need to demolish it and start from scratch like the Flemish Government Architect policy promotes. Roof renovations can represent a key gesture to transform the energetic performance of a house while also transforming the space in a more qualitative part of the house. Considering giving roof renovation a new approach could turn an underused space into a valuable part of a house. The following charts present the potential roof renovations in selected blocks in the Brugse Poort. The selected blocks are conformed by mainly narrow row houses. In order to determine the condition of the roofs a warmth photo was analyzed and double checked with an aerial photo. The warmth photo was taken in 2011 by the city of Ghent to use as a tool to identify the variety of roof conditions in the city and to provide clear solutions and benefits of renovating ones roof. As part of the solutions, a series of subsides have been offered to alleviate the bad insulated roof problem.

1 “Huisje, Tuinje, Boomje” House, Garden, Tree, A common Flemish expression referring to the fact that people dream of a house with a garden and a tree. This was a promoted practice but is no longer sustainable or feasible considering population growth.


|Roof condition in the selected house Meibloemstraat 63

| Roof Analysis 1 Tulpstraat, Resedastraat & Hulstboomstraat


| Roof Isolation level Very good



Not Efficient

Not Isolated

| Roof Analysis 2 Lobeliastraat & Oliefstraat

Renovated with neighbors


To renovate

Back extensions

Flat roofs



| Roof Condition

| Roof Analysis 3 Madeliefjestraat, Meibloemstraat & Sparresraat


| Roof Isolation level Very good



Not Efficient

Not Isolated

| Roof Analysis 4 Cederstraat, Heershagestraat & Kastanjestraat

Renovated with neighbors


To renovate

Back extensions

Flat roofs



| Roof Condition


|Typical Roof Condition Roof from Meibloemstraat 67 house


|Typical Attic Use Meibloemstraat 71 & Cederstraat 24



Besides the broad subside offer and the fact that people can combine multiple subsides in a term of 5 years to improve the condition of their houses; subsidies are not fully used for two main reasons: 1) despite the fact that the government can pay back upto 50% of the costs the other part of the money should be financed by the owner.

2) many houses for rent are neglected because the owners don’t follow their renter’s comfort and needs. This explain why most of the houses that are for rent in the Brugse Poort area are in poor conditions . Even though the income of renter will rise they won’t necessarily invest in renovating a house that they are planning to leave. It is already a common practice to execute traditional roof renovations over more than one property. In other words neighbors come together and ask a contractor to change the adjacent roofs as one. This results in reduced fees and time efficiency.

De Vylder Vinck Taillieu Arquitects Meulesteedsesteenweg No. 53 & 55, Ghent. Continuous roof over two different properties

These appealing opportunities help to open the discussion weather it would be possible to come together as a group of people, ideally next door neighbors, to ask not only for a better deal from roof contractors, and material distributors, but also to the different governmental institutions to possibly get a stimulating offer that would encourage people to renovate their houses and improve their quality of life by replacing their roofs, as a community. Giving attention to the roof does not diminish other important works an old existing house needs to solve, but gives a different perspective to not only improve the value of one private house, but to potentially increase the value of a community not only of the properties and the built environment but also enhance social participation.


The acquisition and renovation of private property is stimulated by attractive portfolios of subsidies that the government and banks provide in order to incentive the rehabilitation of old houses and warranty they are up to he latest standards. From energy efficiency programs, to life quality improvement and green roofs people can apply from 20%-50% reimbursement of the costs. The granted subsidy depends on the category of the works and the financial status of the person applying to it. In the case of green roofs people can obtain up to €25.000 in Ghent. This amount does not include additional premiums home owners and tenants can still apply based on the exact location of their house, the condition of their roof and the type of works they will execute. The lent amount is granted based on people’s income, priority of the type of works executed, and function of the renovated property. Typically, social housing and people with fewer possibilities get the most interesting benefits. Applying for a subsidy for normal roof renovations requires a simple procedure which seems to be unknown for most of the people. Additional to this, the city of Ghent and the Flemish government offer each free consultations on technical aspects involving house renovation and energetic efficiency implementations. Roof contractors and new material suppliers offer as well guidance to achieve affordable roofs. It is important to mention that some subsides, specifically those regarding the roofs, can also be granted to tenants.


| new ABOVE THE EXISTING spatial possibilities on existing row houses While renovating or building a new roof together with the neighbors might be a good approach to reduce costs, if put on the table, the renovation of roof as community can comprise much more than just a cover above houses. Creating new spaces above combining different properties would allow owners to have access to bigger spaces that otherwise they could not enjoy. The sharing economy in housing and the cohousing projects aim to promote social participation in common areas making possible to reduce the size of the private spaces1. In the case old narrow rowhouses where space is already limited having additional space on the roof will make this typology more attractive and financially possible for young couples and small families. Because roofs are wooden independent structures above the house’s masonry, creating new common spaces connecting the houses in the roof and attic area would not represent meaningful structural changes to their properties. While the building on top of buildings approach has gained popularity as a densification tool around the world. The idea behind this project relies on unveiling the hidden potential underused rooftops and attics can contain at the same time as presenting the range of possibilities when rethinking private space and opening it up to communal property. The idea of using multiple private houses rooftops to be combined as one common space enables the participants to have access to larger spaces otherwise impossible due to the physical characteristics of their properties.



1 The Sharing Economy Comes Home: New Housing Trends and Practices That Are Changing How We Live. Yassi

Affordable housing / Renovation Lampaert, Arnold . Van bouwvallig naar bijna nieuw : innovatief renoveren. Antwerpen. 2013


Leupen, Bernard. Kader en generieke ruimte. Een onderzoek naar de veranderbare woning op basis van het permanente. Uitgeverij 010. Rotterdam. 2002 Balthazar, Tom ( Stad Gent). Smal Bouwen, Ruim Wonen. Ghent. 2013 Brand, Stewart. How Buildings Learn. Viking Press. New York. 1994 Alexander, Christopher. The Timeless Way of Building. Oxford University Press. Oxford. 1979 Habraken , John N . Supports: an Alternative to Mass Housing,Urban International Press, UK, 1972 Nefs M., ‘Unused urban space: conservation of transformation? Polemics about the future of urban wastelands and abandoned buildings’, in: City & Time, 2(1), 2006, p.47-58 Fernandez, Auroa. Reclaim. Domestic Actions. Vitoria-Gasteiz : A+T, 1013. 2013 Marus, Thomas. Building Conversion and Rehabilitation. Desiging for change. London . 1979.


Davis, Sam. The Architecture of Affordable Housing. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

Smith, Ryan, John D. Quale. Offsite Architecture, Constructing the future. Abingdon: Routledge, 2017 Wouters, Edith, “ Kleinschalig Wonen” Provincie Vlaams-Brabant. 2014 Domer, Klaus. Affordable living: housing for everyone.Berlin. Schultz-Ganberg. 2014 Schaafsma, Esther et al. Zolder Verbouwen. Vereninging Eigen Huis. Amersfoort. 2005 Ehrmantraut, Andreas. De Zolder Verbouwen. Deltas. Meise. 2009

New ways of living/building

Interiors and Materials

Bauwens, Michael .Commons Transition Plan for the City of Ghent. Ghent. 2017

Arup.The Urban Bio-loop, Growing , Making and Regenerating. Arup. Milan .2017

Ruby, Ilka et al.The Economy of Sustainable Construction. Ruby Press. Munich. 2014

Schneiderman, Deborah. Inside Prefab: The ready-made Interior. New Jersey: Princeton Architectural Press, 2012.

Werwath, Peter. Alternative Financing Models – Hybrids of Homeownership: Limited Equity Tummers, Lidewij. The re-emergence of self managed co-housing in Europe: A critical review of co-housing. Urban Studies, vol. 53(10) pp.2023-2040. 2016 Marrs, Colin. Can Rooftop Extension Help Solve The Housing Crisis? Architects Journal. London .2018

Schneiderman, Deborah, Amy Campos. Interiors Beyond Architecture. 1st Edition. Abingdon: Routledge, 2017 Alonso,Pedro Ingnacio, Hugo Palmarola. Panel. London. Bedford Press. 2017

De Potter, Dagmar, et al. Goed Wonen voor Iedereen pp 17-21.Frank. Tijdschrift van samenlevingsopbouw Gent. Gent. 2017


Van Roy, Wim et al. Commons, Stad van de toekomst. TerZake Magazine. Nr.4. pp. 03-22. Die Keure. 2017

Belgian context


Architecture Workroom Brussels. Naar een visionaire woningbouw (Eindrapport). Vlaams Bouwmeester. Brussels. 2012

AWG Architecten Ilse van Berendonks, Christine de Ruijter, Vicente Serra, Constantain Lebeau.

Vlaamse Kenniscentrum. Zuurstof voor de Brugse Poort. Stad Gent. Ghent 2010

Brugse Poort community workers Thierry Robesyn, Nayive Gonzalez.

Belgium’s housing market Something to worry about?. Chief Economist Department KBC Groep. 2013

Brugse Poort neighbors Els Haentges, Sigurd Benschop, Saya Deprez.

Rietveld Ronald & Rietveld Erik (2014), VACANCY STUDIES, experiments & strategic interventions in architecture, Rotterdam, nai010 publishers. Renovation Subsidies in Gent Stad Gent.

|44 warmtefoto

Hanne Van Reusel Studiolo Architectuur Karolien Vanmerhaeghe Wooncoop Bart Grugeon Plana



ABOVE THE EXISTING new spatial possibilities on existing row houses

| ursulamendo

New 1605 reflection paper  
New 1605 reflection paper