Lo-Reninge is one of the smallest towns in Belgium and is formed by a picturesque interplay of Flemish brick architecture, medieval buildings and the vast polder landscape. The present design for sixteen social housing units aims to retain this unique character by focusing on an architecture that has grown organically from a well- considered location, a contemporary interpretation of the existing (residential) typologies and an intelligent translation of the residential programme.
The dwellings are semi-detached. This creates a contemporary interpretation of the West Flemish rural house with a mansard roof. Moreover, this size keeps the middle between the small grain of the dense village core and the coarser grain of the further planned extensions. The alternation of rural-style "villas" with lower annexes creates a varied street profile that also provides the necessary shelter. By building up the edges of the plots, a shell is created that clearly separates public and private. In the core of the block, this separation is more gradual. The gardens are intimate oases of peace and greenery, connected by a hedge with garden gates to an inner courtyard. The semi-private green lung connects to the public road and functions as a roaring social driver for the residents. Cars are parked in the adjoining car park with parking spaces and garage boxes.
Two variants were developed: a generous straight variant and a compact angled variant. They are for sale and for rent respectively. The angled rental dwellings are always positioned at the corners and equipped with an arched portico. The lines of sight from the surrounding streets are clearly terminated and a play with the neighbouring landmarks is created.
The simple materials and façade openings also respect and emphasise the rural surroundings. A palette of ochre bricks with grey slates provides a contemporary touch. Black stained wooden planks give the annexes on the garden side a rustic feel. The windows are painted white and made of wood, the entrance doors of dark green. In the owner-occupied dwellings, the frame of the front door slightly extends beyond the façade surface, and a charming compact concrete canopy makes an inviting gesture towards family and guests. In the case of the rental dwellings, the front doors are grouped in pairs in an arched portico. Given the importance of these corners in the design, it was decided to have the columns designed by Dirk Zoete, a contemporary artist from Ghent.