From a hat factory to a sustainable easy-to-live and cohesive urban area.

  • Industrial district
  • Unattractive to families
  • (Natural) site conditions
  • Divided area

Prizewinner of the competition launched by Citydev.Brussels, the residential project Compas is an integral part of the urban redevelopment plan for the Brussels Canal area (Anderlecht). It is part of the Lemmens and Compas ‘sustainable neighbourhood contracts’, and takes advantage of the particular (natural) site conditions.

Reconvert a former industrial site and design a neighbourhood that :
— Fosters social mixing, dialogue and cohesion.
— Meets the needs of different families.
— Integrates into a wider dynamic of urban development.
— Is a model for sustainable development.


01 Urban Planning

Create a breathing space in an (enclosed) dense urban fabric.

The only access to the site is via the very narrow street du Compas, characterised, with buildings alternating between Brussels’ traditional row houses, apartments buildings, workshops and industrial buildings. Through the creation of two ‘breakthroughs’, the project opens up the dense urban fabric, expands the street and extends the public space into the interior of the building block. The project is urban but ventilated, with open breathing spaces acting as living and meeting places as well as allowing visual permeability. The location of the buildings and design of the landscaped areas anticipate potential future connections to adjacent plots and larger interconnections within the neighbourhood.

  • Expand a narrow street
  • Open urban fabric
  • Imagine future connections

02 Site plan

Energise the ground level shared places.

Buildings and exterior spaces were designed for interaction and dialogue. The latter offer different atmospheres and activities, for inhabitants and neighbourhood residents, and encourage soft mobility. The movements and perception of the pedestrian were the guidelines for the design. The dark-brick basement, ensuring the project fits in to the surroundings, is punctuated by wooden elements that serve as indicate area for meeting (entries, bike parks, etc.).

  • Play and meet up
  • Access and keep an eye

03 Programme

A neighbourhood that brings together

The conception was driven by flexibility, diversity and collectiveness. The project comprises social as well as subsidised housing, with multiple and flexible living typologies in each building responding to the needs of various family compositions. The nursery is a driving force for the creation of an easy-to-live district. Its design and equipment moreover allow potential future conversion to adapt to the neighbourhood’s changing needs. Dialogue and social interaction are promoted by green exterior spaces and a new urban square, which encourage spontaneous encounters between inhabitants and neighbours.

  • Subsidised housing
  • Social housing
  • Square
  • Convertible equipment (nursery)
  • Common garden
  • Collective vegetable gardens

04 Environment

Create space for nature in the city.

The project focuses on offering a variety of landscapes and atmospheres (at ground level, on the roofs, on façades and fences), to match inhabitants’ needs and enhance social exchanges, but also to support the development of biodiversity and to manage rainwater through sustainable strategies.

Used as a key element of the landscape design, enabling passive cooling against the heat island effect, rainwater is also collected to supply toilets, cleaning communal areas and irrigation.

The buildings are shaped and organised in order to optimise the entry of daylight and improve living quality, while the roofs have solar panels installed that provide electricity for communal areas, as well as hosting green roofs and some private gardens.

During the construction phase, special attention will be paid to waste management to encourage reuse and recycling. Most of the excavated earth will be replaced on site to form part of the landscape design, as well as some re-employed elements, reminders of the industrial heritage of the area.

  • Take advantage of rainwater
  • Provide natural daylight
  • Energy
  • Offer space for biodiversity
  • Install green roofs
  • Install gardens on the roof


Technical information

Brussels (Anderlecht), Belgium
Residential, Equipment
Kairos (BAM)
18.335 m²
Competition, New construction, New district


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Interested in this project? Contact the project partner to get more information

François Couvreur

Architect - Partner