More than ten years ago, Lava architecten won the competition for the construction of community centre De Rinck on Dapperheidsplein in Anderlecht. It was the first competition that Lava won and at the same time a considerable challenge in both space and time.
More than a decade passed between the award and the delivery. As a result, the design grew in time with different policy changes and adaptations to the legislation regarding fire safety, acoustics and sustainability. This tour de force was completed in 2019, since when it has been impossible to imagine Anderlecht’s community life without it.
The starting point was an amalgam of buildings in poor structural condition on the corner of Kapittelstraat and Dapperheidsplein owned by the Flemish Community Commission. To make things even more challenging, one of the buildings was listed as valuable heritage, the façades along the square were part of the cityscape, and the soil on the site was polluted.
To meet these various challenges, Lava designed a functional link of different local and supra-local functions: a café, a dance studio, multipurpose halls and classrooms as well as offices connected to common support functions such as a reception area, toilets and a foyer.
In schematic terms, the building resembles a comb whose back extends behind the neo-Gothic façade to the end of the plot. Teeth are linked to this ‘interior street’, alternating with outdoor spaces. As a result, different programmatic volumes receive light and visibility, without creating views into the surrounding residential fabric. Thanks to the outdoor spaces, the façade in Kapittelstraat is not a monolithic block and it fits nicely into the rhythm and scale of the street. As the levels rise, more outdoor spaces are created, with the building volume decreasing in height.
The listed corner building was stripped of years of alterations and restored to its historical core. This is where the café or ‘inn’ was housed. The historical façades were stuccoed in order to achieve a homogeneous appearance in combination with the reddish-purple new constructions. The neo-Gothic façade became a typical example of façadism: only the front façade was preserved. By opening up the side façade of this volume with a striking curtain wall, Lava does not pretend otherwise.
Despite the extended growth process, a contemporary building was delivered in 2019. The building complies with the passive housing standards, which have been the norm in the Brussels Region for several years. The building is fully accessible and, as a reception and performance space in a densely populated city centre, it meets strict acoustic requirements.
The interior is robust and solid, with a few playful touches that lend the building its architectural quality. For example, the dance floor in the large multipurpose hall was laid diagonally, and this diagonal is repeated in the panelling. The lighting fixtures and other technical elements were also placed with great care.
Today it is impossible to imagine the centre of Anderlecht without De Rinck. The building has brought both functional and architectural added value to Dapperheidsplein.