We were asked to design two community centres in the municipality of Vleteren, Belgium. The old school of Westvleteren and the old town hall and school building of Woesten had defined the daily life of the residents for decades. We created a strong contextual and historical design for both sites and we were able to maintain their position to community life as both buildings have become real meeting spots.
In Woesten the building is accessible by a central binding public domain: the playground of the former school (built in the 19th century). By creating doors in situ of some windows we reinforced the relationship between the interior spaces and this square. At the other side, the same was done to enliven the back area as a green semi-public space linked with the meeting hall. The closed functions, the storage, the technical spaces and the sanitary facilities were grouped in a partially extended volume. The new extension was designed around a recent sanitary extension, thus the investment would not be wasted. By moving the volume outwards, space is generated to house the closed functions and create the central entrance hall, which is lit by roof lights. The main spaces have an open floorplan, and facilitate the activities of the meeting centre: kitchen, meeting room, meeting hall, drawing courses, concerts, etc. The attic was redesigned to create more space and prevent the need for more building extensions. The materials were chosen through a sustainability and durability analysis. The toilets use recycled rainwater. The lights are energy efficient, the ventilation system makes use of heat recovery and the redesigned parts are highly insulated.