RDS Community House

Team Joni Nieuwenhuysen
Kelvin Obi
Bruno Spaas
Location Ruitersdreef 29 B-2900 Schoten
Year 2019-2022
Client Anapneusis vzw
Suppliers Vandersanden (facade bricks)
Awards BIS architecture prize 2022

Press HLN

The term ‘healthy building’ most commonly refers to tangible measures regarding a building’s indoor climate, energy use, green areas and construction materials. In the case of ‘RDS Community House’, a co-living project on the outskirts of Antwerp, all those aspects have been taken into consideration, but not only. Architecture should put a smile on your face, a welcoming and surprising visual impression also adds to the well-being of an environment.

With the bricks and façade elements all kept in one colour, a deep warm red, the building exudes unity and consistency. Yet, the monochromatic surface also allows for certain features to stand out graphically, such as the shape of the three-volume building, the windows and the façade design. The choice of unusual roof pitches, circular and half-circular windows and a unique brick pattern add a remarkable and cheerful expression, to be enjoyed both from the exterior and the interior of the building.

Commissioned by a local non-profit organisation providing housing for ex-homeless people, ‘RDS Community House’ is the new shared home for four residents. In addition to the detailed brief from the organisation, the residents have described which surroundings would offer them the most comfortable living conditions. The result is a building consisting of four individual 36 sqm studios, intimate and well-equipped, with views towards outside greenery, purposefully directed away from the common areas to avoid the necessity of curtains. The residents can enjoy the daylight and natural surroundings without feeling deprived from their private sphere – ‘privacy with a view’. The larger communal space, on the other hand, is open on all sides, accessible and visible from the outside, as an invitation for social gatherings.

Throughout the building, from its base to the top, ecological materials are applied to ensure a non-toxic living environment and a durable construction: natural shells from the North Sea for the foundation, wooden timber to form the frame structure, bio-composite lime-hemp concrete and wood wool to insulate the walls, wooden flooring from sustainably managed forests, and everything finished off with a brick façade and tiled roof to guarantee the building’s longevity. Due to prefabricated wall, floor and roof panels the construction process has benefited from being both time and material efficient.