Vandenpeereboom – Arc-en-Ciel

Photo: Tim Van de Velde (Tim Van de Velde Photography)

Presentation of the housing project:

The Arc-en-Ciel project is located in Molenbeek, between Chaussée de Gand and Gare de l’Ouest, in a district that is undergoing a major transformation. It constitutes one of the two pilot projects of CLTB and was built with a passive architecture. The Arc-en-Ciel Group was formed in 2012, and after 5 years of preparation, the 32 families moved into their homes in February 2020. Throughout the process, the households have been intensively involved in the project, including the architectural design. They were at the heart of the planning and preparations (management of the co-ownership, reflections on energy consumption, drafting of a charter describing the values that the different households share, etc.), with the aim of ultimately managing the building themselves in the future. Since 2018, the group have been organising a monthly flea market and are thus actively involved in the life of the neighbourhood.

Practical info:

Address: Rue Vandenpeereboom 22 & Rue des Etangs Noirs 121-133, 1080 Molenbeek St-Jean
Client: Fonds du Logement
Architect: Asso. momentanée K&R (architectural office Stekke+fraas – Atelier 229)
Contractor: Thomas & Piron


  • Maison de quartier Bonnevie, Convivence, CIRE (accompaniment of the inhabitants and supervision of the participatory process)
  • Fonds du Logement (mortgage loans and contracting authority/client)

Building programme:

  • 32 apartments
  • Collective garden
  • Community space (neighbourhood facilities)
  • Multi-purpose space (with an association)

Project Framework and Funding:

The “Arc-en-Ciel” project is the second CLTB pilot project to be launched in 2013. In July of that year, the project received the necessary regional subsidies for its realization. The land was purchased by Fonds du Logement as part of the “Rive Ouest” neighbourhood contract (2007-2011). It was then sold to CLTB in 2015.

Construction began in January 2018. In February 2020, the residents started signing the deeds of sale and moving in. In addition, the households received mortgage loans provided by the Housing Fund (Fonds du Logement).

With its 32 housing units, community garden and space for associations, the “Arc-en-Ciel” project represents somewhat the flagship of our association.

Composition of the group project and participative methodology:

In 2012, CLTB brought together a first group of future inhabitants to form the “Arc-en-Ciel” project group. The project was the subject of a preliminary case study within the framework of a regional feasibility analysis for the implementation of CLTB in Brussels. This made it possible to organise the participation of the inhabitants at a very early stage. Since then, some changes in membership within the project group have nevertheless occurred (this is the price of a long wait).

The inhabitants then contributed to the drafting of a series of recommendations that were incorporated into the specifications for the public tender.

Furthermore, three thematic groups were organised with the project’s partner associations: “energy” (provided by the Maison de Quartier Bonnevie), “co-ownership – living together” (provided by CIRE), and “neighbourhood” (provided by CLTB). The aim was to prepare the residents effectively for their new status as owners, as well as for each member to become a “reference specialist” in one of the “themes” of the future co-ownership.

Throughout the process, many festive moments were organised. This facilitated encounters and exchanges between the members of the project group itself, as well as with local residents.

Concerning the multi-purpose space to be shared between the co-ownership and an association, there is no confirmed association as of yet. The association Vie Féminine has expressed an interest, and views the project as not only having a sufficiently large and pleasant space for its activities, but also interesting synergies to be set up with families and the surrounding neighbourhood. However, this collaboration has not yet been confirmed at this moment in time (early 2020).

Photo : Noémie Emmanuel

Architectural contract:

In July 2014, Fonds du Logement, the contracting authority for the project, awarded the contract to the joint venture K&R (architectural office Stekke+fraas – Atelier 229, together with Thomas & Piron) out of the 7 bidders.

The members of the project group and the partner associations carefully analysed the plans of the various bidders. A small delegation from the “Arc-en-Ciel” group met with Fonds du Logement to present the results of their analysis for informative purposes. “Now we know how to read plans like architects”, one of the members proudly testified.

Deeds of CLT sales to households, moving in and the co-ownership guidance:

CLTB worked with Fonds du Logement to finalize the various deeds, including: basic deeds, deeds of sale of the buildings (surface right) and deeds of credit. The final deeds of sale were signed in February 2020. This was a landmark moment for residents, who officially became owners of their homes!

CLTB will continue to support the co-owners for a certain period of time, in order to facilitate their autonomy and assist them in managing their property in the best way possible. This includes issues related to co-existence as well as the general management of the co-ownership.

Arc-en-Ciel families engaging in their neighborhood!

Since 2018, the group has been organizing the Festival Bazaar in their street – a flea market every first Sunday of the month. The original idea was for the families to create links with their neighbours. After moving in, the Festival Bazaar has continued to be a dynamic point of interaction and exchange in the neighbourhood.

In the philosophy of the CLT model, the notion of habitat is not limited to housing, but is part of a broader living environment. The social ties and spatial anchoring of the residents was thus an essential feature of the project.

In this fashion, the film Terrain à ne pas vendre , directed by Gsara, retraces the collective dynamics of the project’s initiation.