Savonnerie Heymans Apartments Project is a public housing project not far from the Grand Place. It was one of the architectural projects on our must visit list. Completed in 2011, this project has since won numerous awards for its innovative, sensitive and low energy design approach.
The project was built around an old soap factory. Some of the old factory structures have been retained - including a 40m high chimney which is reused as ventilation for an underground car park.
The design uses industrial materials such as steel checkered plates,galvanized steel, glass and raw timber but transforms them into sensual materials with clever use of textures and colours.
As this is a housing project, it is not normally open for visitors. At first we couldn't find the entrance as the main gate was closed. Luckily there were some maintenance works going on and the gate was opened for a delivery truck - and the building manager let us in for a quick look around.
It is amazing that a project of such high quality in both architectural design and construction is actually public housing. Despite their economic woes in Europe - they must be doing something right.