Until recently, the Handelskaai in Kortrijk was regarded as an anonymous outskirt of the city centre. The potential of the canalized river ‘the Lys’ was consistently underestimated. In many places the quays were reduced to car parks. However, when infrastructure works started on the waterway in the late 1990s to improve the inland shipping route, the city made use of the opportunity to improve its relationship with the river. New bridges and improved public spaces in turn led to renewed interest from developers for the waterside properties. The renovation of the building stock on the other side of the quay is already underway, and now the still grey zone along the Handelskaai is ready to evolve into an easy-going neighbourhood, almost literally a stone’s throw from the busier city centre.
This is context wherein ‘Kaskade’ sees the light. The residential project with 26 housing units, an courtyard garden with bicycle shed and an underground garage is located on the quay with a view of the river Lys. The triangular plot is backed by the residential buildings in the surrounding Schipperstraat, Hendrik Beyaertstraat and Paleisstraat. The refreshing residential project will replace the existing disused buildings from the interbellum period and the 1980s.
The project is a collaboration between Linklab and Markland architects (Kortrijk). The design research for Kaskade mainly focused on a balanced scale of the façade within its context, extended to a typology and plan tailored to the needs of the residents.
The facade design stands out because of its ‘percelation’, a vertical segmentation that generates the idea of different, contiguous plots. As a result, the design not only breaks through its own volumetry, but also provides a dynamic counterweight to the flat monotony of other apartment buildngs in the neighbourhood. By playing with the verticality, Kaskade also connects nicely to the individual scale of the older and smaller houses to the back of the block. The variation in facade width and diversity in materialization further reinforces this starting point. The idea of bringing the retracted roof floor back to the building line in two places also reinforces the vertical differentiation.
The percelation also offers an opportunity to create a self-evident connection with the different typologies on either side.
To the left, the 5 storeys with retracted penthouse floor connect to the adjoining 6 floor apartment block.
From the middle of the building, the number of floors gradually decreases to tree, the height of the neighbour to the right.
The concept of a vertical structure is more than a visual exercise for the façade image. It is consistently extended in the layout of the floorplan, resulting in a diverse range of apartment types and sizes.
The vertical rhythm is also felt on the back façade, as the percelation is combined with differing building depths. On the east and west side plot boundaries, the building depth is the same as that of the adjoining buildings. Adjustments to the heights and depths of the rear elevation are made in relation to the quality of the courtyard and to minimize the effect on neighbouring plots.