A new generation of student accommodations in the heart of Antwerp’s student district
The tower on the city campus
Ten Prinsenhove, an icon of the Antwerp student scene. Since 1970, this trusty, 12-storey neighbour and big brother of the Komida, located in the heart of the Antwerp student campus, has looked out over the entire city centre and far beyond. In recent years, this icon has threatened to become a thorn in the eye of the University of Antwerp. The building failed its inspection by the Fire Department due to non-conformities in the fire routes, and in recent years the UA has failed, for financial reasons, to give the building the love and attention it requires, which meant that the spectacle of the tower in the cityscape was not getting any more handsome. High time, it seemed, to give it the necessary care and attention.
A contest was organised to award the renovation and the management of the site for the next 50 years to a professional third party. The entire student real estate sector took part, and LIFE was chosen as the winner. The jury was convinced by LIFE’s long-term vision, innovation and fresh approach to student housing, in combination with its DNA – Beauty, Unique and Caring.
A new generation of student accommodations in the heart of Antwerp’s student district. No bricks, just the building blocks of Identity & Diversity and Inclusion & Collectivity.
Identity and diversity
As opposed to how it is in many student accommodations, LIFE is looking for an explicitly diverse programme with new typologies and atmospheres where as many students as possible, and by extension as many people as possible, can feel at home. No battery cage of rooms. Instead, a combination of shared units, private units with private sanitary facilities, dorms, studios and one-bedroom apartments, all with one unique characteristic: the skyline of Antwerp as a mural, with a large window that can be opened completely, leading to a balcony that transforms indoors to out and outdoors to in.
An inclusive residential community of students, guest professors, summer school students, doctoral candidates and even tourists will, in coming years, also be able to call it home and to discover the city from a unique birds-eye perspective.
During the design phase, the students from the International Design Week were asked to present their visions of the student accommodation of the future. Their responses were surprising and difficult to imagine from a generation that has grown up with fundamentals such as privacy and property. The private units should be smaller, and the common areas larger! Compact living units, now that is sustainable. Your cocoon, where you can retreat, but complemented with spaciousness – the hybrid model.
Unique and high-quality spaces invite encounters in an approachable, low threshold way and in the best possible circumstances. A communal living area with washing machines, open-plan kitchens, study and meeting rooms, a fitness and yoga area and, as the cherry on the cake, a sky lounge with a rooftop terrace boosting a 360° view of Antwerp. True sustainability is all about the optimisation of space. From 2D to 3D… or even 4D. From optimal use of the available space to optimal use of the space in time. Sharing creates more space!
In addition to the realisation of significant diversity in typology, resolute efforts are also being made in the area of inclusion in the management of the building. Initiatives in the areas of social, local and gig economies ensure that the residents encounter all groups in society and, in doing so, learn to appreciate them even more.
Moreover, the residents have the opportunity to take on minor chores in the building themselves, using their expertise for the benefit of the other residents. These tasks can be anything from tutoring or consulting, to doing minor repairs or working at the sky bar.