New Mills: Sticking to the Past

Archipl Architecten

Architect: Archipl-architects
Location: New Mills, Gent, Belgium
Photography: Filip Dujardin

In the late 19th century countless European cities re-urbanized. In Flanders, redevelopment, adaptive reuse and urban infill – with further compaction – proved to be an appropriate strategy to turn back the historical congestion. Within the context of the urban renewal strategy of Ghent’s 19th century ring, an architecture competition focuses on the New Mills of the Rabot quarter.

This industrial milling complex emerged at the end of the 19th century in a continuous process of expansion and demolition along the canal. It became a conglomerate of factory buildings and office architecture, once surrounded by other factories and workers’ districts. The city deployed the European Regional Development Fund for the reconditioning and redevelopment of one former administration building into 21 apartments.Since the city opted to reuse the existing concrete structure of the office building, densification had to be realised vertically. The expansion responds to the indefinable morphology of the mill complex. The layout is designed as a free plan with spacious, well-oriented terraces, granting the apartments an unobstructed view of the Rabot Park, the canal and the city centre with its three towers. The ground floor contains the communal areas such as the entrance hall, bicycle parking and individual storage.Due to, among other things, the extensive thermal insulation and individual balanced ventilation system, these sustainable apartments acquired a low-energy-label.