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ERINN SAVAGE – Performance
Tomorrow 15:00 GMT

Intergen Antwerp is an intergenerational learning facility proposed within one of Antwerp’s many city blocks. Intergenerational facilities have shown to be successful for preventing ageism in children and for fighting loneliness in elderly people, as well as benefiting their respective families. The idea of immediate interaction across the age groups has formed the project’s components, such as a care home and educational facilities, which are linked by the act of collective sharing. The different buildings, which have different levels of privacy, are connected through both prescribed social spaces and by the formation of informal spaces in-between the facilities. By creating spaces that encourage interaction between children and elderly, the first and the last stage of life; a new place for living, learning, and playing is created within the city.

Through explorations in one of Antwerp’s residential areas – the 2060 quarter, a hidden courtyard was revealed within one of its many city blocks. Zusters der Armenplein is an enclosed courtyard containing both communal and private areas: a private area for care home residents, a park, and a communal garden used for growing flowers and vegetables. There are gates situated at each side of the block that lead you through the courtyard during the day, until the path closes for the public during night time. Zusters der Armenplein is an example of many successful city blocks in Antwerp, and the project intends to build upon the existing components and facilitate the interaction between people of different ages.

The organisation of the different buildings, as well as the shape and functions of the connective roof, was explored and developed through a series of models in different scales.

Intergen Antwerp proposes the coexistence of several buildings: a nursery and primary school, an elderly care home, and a learning facility containing both educational and leisurely spaces. The buildings’ separation is a response to the city’s fine urban grain, but each of the proposed buildings are connected through a shared terraced space and the greenhouses covering the buildings’ roofs.

The private; primary school, nursery and care home, and the communal; learning facility and the community hall have several shared spaces within and between them, which is seen clearly on the ground floor level. The leisurely common ground acts as a circulation space, keeping the existing pathway through the block, and is open to the neighbourhood community during special occasions – such as market days. Facilities that can be used by more than one age group, such as a sports hall, art classrooms and media suites have been placed in different buildings to encourage more circulation across the common ground which leads to more interaction across the stages.

While the ground floor level contains more of the communal spaces, the shared terrace above will be used mainly as a playground for children and elderly only. It is accessible from each of the buildings and will act as an extension of the private-shared spaces of each facility, while the void in the middle will guide circulation and bring light down to the common ground.

The project proposes a variety of private, shared and communal buildings where these qualities are reflected in the buildings’ organisation and use of materials. Similarly to Antwerp’s city blocks - each of the buildings are centred around a courtyard, such as the courtyard on the common ground or the terraced shared space. This way of organization is also utilized to organize the units within the buildings; the care home flats and the primary school classrooms have been centered around a little ‘heart’ that acts as a social space to encourage more social interaction. The greenhouses on top of the buildings will facilitate the growing of food, by the means of vertical farming. The angular shape of the roof will, along with the use of solar energy-absorbing glass, allow for collection of rainwater and solar energy. These will be collected and stored within the basement of the learning facility, and will be shared and used by all the buildings on site.

The facility’s common ground invites the neighbourhood community in during special occasions, such as market days and school festivals.

Uniting the different stages through the process of growing and harvesting, and cooking and eating food is not only a sustainable method of food consumption but also a way to educate children and adults how to source sustainable food in the city.

The buildings facilitate areas that are intended for social interaction as well as encourage the formation of new and more intimate spaces.