By provoking a confrontation between past and present through the addition of contemporary architecture, the restructuring of this entire block of buildings – including landmark buildings such as Hooghuys and the former Lorette convent – adheres to this evolutionary principle.
The new development, Melano, is located between Hooghuys and Sweert. This apartment building deliberately leans towards Sweert and distances itself from Hooghuys, with a cantilever on the first floor creating a particular tension. The white brick architecture is a response to the partly lime-washed, partly plastered façade of Hooghuys and the classic uniform gables of Sweert. Covered terraces enter into a dialogue with the two-dimensionality of the historic façades on Drabstraat. Integrated vertical lighting strips not only draw attention to the contemporary façade and therefore celebrate modern life, they also light up the street and thereby represent a contemporary idea of interaction with public space.
This building is also a key aspect of the restructuring of the site. Just as water finds its meandering way through the landscape, this project is dedicated to permeability. The new building provides a passageway, by means of a raised point of contact with Hooghuys, for an alley that leads into the rear courtyard. The re-purposed garden evokes the formerly sizeable Hooghuys garden, which stretched as far as Begijnenstraat and therefore provided access to the market square. Three centuries later, however, this area of greenery was closed off from Begijnenstraat by the L-shaped Lorette convent and girls’ school. The neo-Gothic building highlights the impact of a closed and withdrawn religious community on a town. This voluminous wall is now broken through at ground level to allow access to the fish market through a semi-public area that follows on from the playground that was once the Hooghuys garden. City dwellers are drawn into an area of alleys and squares.