The ambition to densify Antwerp’s 20th century belt demands new dwelling solutions and innovative typologies, as well as the reimagining of the relationships between built and open spaces to achieve attractive living environments. But that is not all: how can we overcome the difficulties presented by the characteristic fragmented territory and ownership patterns of this area? Besides thinking new spatial models, the housing production itself needs to be rethought as a chain of decisions and actions that generate the conditions allowing for smart solutions to emerge.

The reflection on ways to generate conditions favorable to the urban renewal of this territory–and a set of new tools and processes to assist it –stood at the core of the study. This research is deliberately a partial one, which investigates the roles of financial institutions and operational instruments as crucial segments in the interplay on the one hand between policy and inhabitants and on the other between housing forms and housing production. Indeed, the way in which they–being actors in the field–perceive certain developments can limit or facilitate opportunities.

On the one hand, we departed from this specific angle to formulate tangible innovative proposals that can help reimagine and reactivate the housing production. On the other hand we aimed to open up the conversation to all actors involved by implementing a specific approach in which the operational dynamics, spatial proposals and financial instruments are seen, visualized and discussed as a complex interplay, thus taking further steps towards a more integrated and integral housing policy in which spatial solutions are developed in conjunction with policies and operational actions.

This design based research thus only becomes relevant when made a part of a bigger picture. Rather than an autonomous solution, we see this research as part of a program that requires further development in order to drastically increase the variety and rapidity of the densification and renewal operations.

Following the study, Lageweg, a pilot project was proposed to the municipality and followed up by 51N4E to test the strategies proposed by the study and refine a replicable redevelopment model.

The result of the study can be found


study on urban densification and renovation
prototypical supermarket site
Landscape of My Personal Belongings, Paul Casaer
densification potential by prototypical site (red: hybrid building block / green: bel étage / blue: supermarkets)
set of instruments
prototypical bel étage case study