Eksterlaer Residential Care Centre

With a timeless building of classical proportions and contemporary detailing, POLO Architecture puts care for the elderly at the heart of a new residential neighbourhood on the eastern outskirts of Antwerp.

2100 Deurne

Surface area

POLO has been involved in the development of the Eksterlaer-site for many years. Now this large-scale urban renewal project has moved on-site and a green and pedestrian-friendly neighbourhood is taking shape. As one of the key buildings we design a facility for elderly care, completing our vision for a vibrant and diverse neighbourhood where a variety of residents and lifestyles find their place in the sun.

This building is located at a prominent location within the development: in the “hinge” of the masterplan, at the end of the long pond which forms the backbone of the neighbourhood’s central green space. However strong the urge might be to provide a statement piece of iconic architecture here, we feel a certain restrained expression and familiar morphology are more appropriate — considering the future users as well as the context of semi-suburban living in green surroundings.

Modifications for function and form

While making sense in terms of general building massing, the masterplan-mandated breakup of the building volume — with no physical connections between upper floors — does create some logistical and operational issues. These connections prove to be of paramount importance to the client in order to realise logical circulation routes and ensure operational efficiency. As such POLO Architecture tries to find a satisfactory solution and goes through several rounds of negotiations with the city’s aesthetics committee; finally they agree on allowing our proposal for very transparent, glazed corridors to connect the two volumes at every floor.

We add some interest to the purity of the longer volume through two interventions. On the long side the common living spaces cantilever out, resulting in a localised protrusion. We further distinguish this cantilever through the brickwork detailing: every other masonry course is recessed, a variation on the recessed horizontal joints found elsewhere. This protrusion faces the large central waterbody outside. Similarly, a second intervention results in a cantilevering of the volume’s short end façade near the entrance; this is an expression of the more spacious luxury rooms located there. Besides these bigger rooms, two flats for assisted living are supplied also, on the top floor of the smaller volume.

At the back of the long volume, the building’s upper floors step back in order to minimise the impact for the existing houses of the Dascottelei. This setback creates room for a large communal terrace.

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