Bijgaardehof is Flanders biggest co-housing project

Flanders’ largest co-housing project opened officially in Ghent, capital of East Flanders, on Saturday.  59 households moved into Bijgaardehof, a block of flats at the former Malmar metal factory.  Each family has its own separate flat with a kitchen and bathroom of its own, but residents can also share kitchen facilities, living spaces and play areas for the children with their neighbours.

The complex will house three cohousing groups. Built inside the walls of the former factory.  It includes a neighbourhood health centre, quiet spaces, a workshop and a roof garden.   

Jef Vingerhoedt moved into a flat together with his family a year ago.  “We are so thrilled to live here.  It’s been such an intense experience that started seven years ago.  There were many changes along the route.  We experienced setbacks, but when I look and see the children playing and us living together with others, I’m so happy”.

The co-housing groups are not reliant on gas for their heating.  Geothermic energy is stored in drill holes and this allows the residents to heat everywhere in the winter and keep things cool in summer. Ghent local authorities subsidized the construction of the drill holes.

The 59 families are not the only residents at Bijgaardehof.  A bat colony lived in the old factory and is still thriving in the vaulted roof of the old factory.

“We have to take account of their presence and make sure our activities do not disturb their sleeping patterns” explains one resident.

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