Machelen Garden Column Tree

between park and garden

Care Centre Machelen

The new building for the residential care centre at Parkhof replaces an existing elderly home consisting of two parts, one from the 1960s and the other from the 1990s. Neither building meets present-day standards and expectations. The earlier building has been demolished. The more recent structure, the "Q-building" will be refurbished and used as an office building for the client, the social services agency of Machelen (OCMW).

location: Machelen (BE)
design: 2011-2013
realisation: 2014- 2017 in two phases
competition: Open Oproep 2104, in collaboration with Hildundk, Munich
client: OCMW Machelen
structural engineer: ABT Antwerpen
advisor - technical installations: Ingenium Brugge
visual artist: Rudy Luijters
garden architect, landscape: Atelier Arne Deruyter
photography: Luuk Kramer, Maurice Tjon
Machelen Model
Machelen Collage Entrance
Machelen Collage Entrance2
Machelen Collage Outside
Machelen Collage Outside2
The new care centre has the character of a friendly residential building and will situate itself naturally within the suburban context of Machelen. The angular geometry gives it the appearance of being smaller and more informal than it actually is.
Machelen Diagrams
Machelen Phase 1
Machelen Phase 2
Machelen Phase 3
The new building has been built in two building phases. Throughout the building process, the residents of the existing buildings are only required to move once.
Machelen Implanting


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The new care home for the elderly has been organised around a spacious courtyard. This courtyard is surrounded by a wide, covered gallery referring to the cloisters of medieval monasteries. Both garden and gallery create an important living space for the residents. The specific layout of the garden and the planting hold both a recreational and therapeutic significance.    

From the main entrance, one overlooks the inner garden. The front doors to the living units are situated in the corners of the gallery surrounding the garden. Four "real' front doors lead to the residential first and second floors.

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Rudy Luijters's artwork consists of a number of elements, all of which refer to objects known to residents like some bird houses, fences, a henhouse, a stone water tank, some wooden lights, etc. Its conscious elementary character stands in charming contrast with architecture.

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The wooden rocker belongs to the garden decoration and the artwork developed by Rudy Luijters: the garden as a social space.

On the ground floor all public spaces and the daycare centre are organised around the courtyard. The offices and the large kitchen face the outside to provide a pleasant working environment for all staff with generous views over the surrounding parkland.

The service centre is located next to the main entrance and consists of several multipurpose rooms that can be subdivided. The social restaurant is connected to the "dorpsplein". We interpreted the metaphorical "village square" stipulated in the programme of requirements literally: we create a new square with terrace open to the public and all visitors of the village park.

Machelen Therapy Garden
Machelen Garden Patio
Machelen Garden Flowers
Machelen Garden Columns Curve
Machelen Garden Grass
Machelen Garden Column
Machelen Column Concrete
Machelen Garden Windows

The layout, programming and planting of the enclosed garden has been regarded as an applied art work and has been developed in collaboration with the artist Rudy Luijters and the garden architect Arne Deruyter. The planting refers to the traditional utilitarian gardens of the region. Specifically designated plots will be cared for as allotment gardens by residents of the neighbourhood. The unconventional approach helps us to realise a rich, healthy and natural living environment for its sensitive inhabitants; a true "healing environment" in the holistic sense, combining natural, social and spatial qualities.

Machelen Plan GF
Machelen Plan 1F
Machelen Plan 2F

1 entrance
2 reception desk
3 social restaurant
4 banquet
5 sitting and dining room
6 physiotherapy
7 regeneration
8 library
9 kitchen
10 goods reception
11 storage
12 staff refectory
13 office

Parkhof In De Zon Dsc00823

The outdoor space will be planted in the autumn of 2017.

Machelen Balcony Detail
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Machelen Facade Curtains
Machelen Dublin Balconies Detail

The architecture of the building is sober, friendly and timeless, referring to hotels and sanatoria, the positive precedents of the architecture of care. French balconies with decorative railings provide an elegant façade to match the scale and pastoral character of the place.

Machelen Dublin Balconies
Machelen Section


Machelen Terrace People
Machelen Corridor Wheelchair

The 105 rooms in total are subdivided into smaller living groups consisting of 15 inhabitants each. On the first floor, 60 rooms are divided among four "houses". Each house is directly accessible from the outside via elevators installed in the four corners of the plan. The corridors are short and wide and have views to the outside. Each house has a service core and an access core, a spacious dining room and a lounge with a balcony overlooking the courtyard, and a more private salon and lounge with a balcony overlooking the park. The residents on the first floor can easily use the public outside areas and facilities on the ground floor. The first floor is functionally self-sufficient but benefits from easy access to supplementary recreational spaces on the ground floor. 

The second floor houses 45 rooms and has been conceived for inhabitants suffering from dementia. The division of units into the various houses is flexible here and the layout allows for a multitude of different clustering opportunities. The various public spaces on this floor are suitable for different uses. The large terraces contribute to a complete, versatile living environment and compensate for the distance to the garden.

Machelen Corridor Terrace
Machelen Clock
Machelen Corridor Furnished
Machelen Corridor Furnished Detail
Machelen Wallpaper
Machelen Room Door Closed
Machelen Room Door Half
Machelen Room Door Open
Machelen Room Window
Machelen Room
Machelen Room Red
Machelen Room Double
Machelen Garden Fountain