Europan 10 Chateau Laubis

LAB M as architect

The Europan 10 brief forces us to take position about sustainability, urban quality and density / footprint. These are mutually ecological an social issues. This way Europan 10 confronts the position of the architect opposite society. These exact topics are clearly present in the Seilh brief. The question is being raised to bring forward an alternative for the suburban sprawl of detached housing.

At the same time, it is not a desirable solution to insert a ready-made typologie for solving a local problem. A clear demand is being made for a new center with it’s own, local identity.

Emphasizing a local identity is unthinkable without a new center. The spacial organisation of the project is as such that it provides public space on the scale of the site and its close surroundings. An optimised suburban housing development is projected on the site. The density is higher than in the classic structure of detached housing. The advantages remain the same, the individual dwelling: ground-tied living, with private exterior space and/or garden, disclosed by low-traffic streets and with the freedom to build a house according to one’s owns taste and desire.

The major advantage of the classic detached housing typology, the individual, ground-tied dwelling, is at the same time its most critical threat. These traditional suburban dwellings melt into an ongoing network of anonimous, self-oriented houses. Such developments group many individuals without creating a community because they lack a shared identity or an orientation towards a mutual economic, social or institutional center. In the contemporary sprawl-city these former ‘central’ functies have become networks of retail superstores, mail-order and e-government.

We adress this hiatus by upgrading the Laubis area with a dens city block: the chateau. This new urban heart combines a wide variety of public program. This way we acquire a high-quality suburban dwelling that combines the advantages of the idividual, ground-tied habitation with the proximity of a dens urban heart. The central block at the same time works as a binder and defines local identity. It is the junction of social, economical and institutional activities and the central engine-room for generating energy, heat production and reuse of rainwater.

Raising questions on density and footprint means contemplating on economic use of land. We adress this matter by applying a dens optimised typology. Meanwhile it is also a matter of spacial organisation, wich this project adresses by proposing ways of multiple use of space. We further reduce the impact of the Laubis development on its surrounding by introducing green roofs and patio’s.

Reducing the ecological footprint and carbon emission is a prior ambition. The energy concept of the Laubis project is based on the Trias Energetica: 1° Reducing the use of energy by applying a dens and highly insulated building typology. 2° Maximal use of renewable energy: wind turbines and solar power. 3° Fulfilling the remaining energy demand by applying fossil sources in a higly efficient way: a Combined Heat Power installation (CHP) delivers heat and power for the whole Laubis site.

Use of water is being reduced to a minimum. We provide open water basins in the adjecent natural zone for the storage of rainwater on the level of the site. A water tower is integrated in the chateau, and provides the Laubis development with a second water circuit for rain water.

Social and ecological systainability is an important topic of the transition town initiatives. These towns wish to strengthen their resilience against external influences by using local resources (energy generation, agriculture, local economy,...). This way transport is being reduced to a minimum (reduction of carbon emission) and the local identity of the area is being emphasized by local products and ideas (social sustainability). The project is designed to maximise the disclosure of these local resources.

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