Aerial picture of the suburban area south of Antwerp

Bird's-eye view of the project

The landscapist situation for the narrow hem. The narrow hem is a compact and linear type which is particularly useful for hemming the lateral side of a parcel.

The landscapist situation for the broad hem. The broad hem is a linear type which is particularly useful for the hemming of the lateral side of a building lot. The difference to the narrow hem is the more generous size of the broad hem. Because of this it also relates better to a more spacious rural size.

The antichambre is an apartment building parallel to the street. By locating the building at the rear end of the garden, it starts to function as a gate to the upcoming landscape behind. It hereby marks the border between a small and middle scale parcel system.

The corner building is an apartment building that shapes a particular corner of the rural parcel.

The residential barn is a two sided variation on the hem typology. Due to the symmetrical section, the residential barn combines the form of the antichambre and the spacial principals of the narrow hem.

The residential barn places itself behind the subdivided landscape, or at its boundary. The building absorbs the parking in the center of its cross section. Along two sides there are porches along which the front doors are located. The porches allow the landscape to be connected directly to the building. Living spaces are located on the first floor, on a large terrace. On top there are sleeping rooms.

The carré is the single most autonomous figure of the presented collection. The type works best in an free standing layout.

At the eastern end we fill a series of lots with three narrow hems. Hereby a pocket landscape is realized that does not incorporate the checkerboard logic, but in it's own way transforms shreds of vacant land in attractive open space.

This systematic logic could be extended to the city centre of Kontich. With some medium scale operations, each slightly increasing the local density, we create an alternative housing landscape. New functional systems and new landscapist stories go hand in hand with the realisation of a higher density.

Living in a collective landscape


This design research project aims at a new alliance between the Flemish countryside and living within that landscape. In the past century, life in Flanders has slowly been detached from the landscape. The connection between living and countryside today is usually anecdotal or parasitic, often even both at the same time.
The research area of this document is characterized by its peri-urban character. It’s about environments where the city is near, where the pressure of urbanisation is high, and where the remaining parts of the fragmented agricultural area are threatened with transformation. We can characterise large parts of the “Vlaamse Ruit” as such. For this assignment, the southern edge of Antwerp’s agglomeration served as a test case.
This project is based on the urban principle of positive externality. Compaction is more than a quantitative task. Compaction should also contribute to a more interesting urban landscape. Hence, each development in this plan goes along with collective added value. By releasing close-up scenery and by creating access to part of the developed space, any operation can add value to the newly created outdoor area.
The design wants to be systemic in nature. The intended shift needs to be performed in a simple, small-scale manner. New alternative developments must be able to graft on to the small-scale plot structure that features in this peri-urban landscape. Preferably these developments are handled by an analogue, speculative mechanism. Densification takes place in small steps and according to new compact models. These new figures graft on to the underlying rural module (anything from a half to a few hectares). The aim is to selectively increase the density, while creating added value for the landscape.

  • Design teamDirk Somers, Sam Lanckriet, Marius Grootveld, Jana Hlavova, Gosia Olchowska & Eline Aerts
  • LocationFlanders
  • Year2013
  • In collaboration withLabo S and Kris Coremans