The hospital had a long history leading up to its redevelopment. It was opened in 1913, but was closed shortly after the German military invasion of Belgium in 1914. In 1918 the complex was severely damaged by a bomb. During the Second World War, it was used as a storage facility before once again serving its original purpose of a hospital. It was closed in 1993 and, ten years later, officials decided to redevelop the site and create a whole new city quarter with 220 housing units.
Plenty of living space
Today, 140 houses, 20 lofts, and 60 apartments provide plenty of living space in an environment with a special feel and in an ideal location. Oostende is one of the most beautiful coastal cities in Belgium and not only is the development near the coast, it is also close to a nature resort. A new cycle path along the coast passes directly through the former military hospital. The historic buildings are at the centre of the development; new houses were only built around the edges of the plot in order to leave the traditional aesthetic untouched. The site is therefore partly surrounded by a brick wall, helping it remain secluded and quiet. The former chapel has now been repurposed as an event venue for the local community, with a new, ornamental staircase, added by a local artist, to draw attention to its new purpose.
Brick combines old & new
The architects from Groep III carried out the renovation of the existing buildings according to an overall plan. The structure of the traditional building was upgraded and enhanced, and remains clearly distinguishable from the new build, but ties closely with it visually. This connection was achieved by using construction materials common to both the old and new buildings: clay bricks and clay roof tiles. The use of brick and roof tiles was primarily prompted by aesthetic considerations: they form an attractive whole. However, the architects had an in-depth discussion with the Belgium Building Heritage Agency before deciding on the specific colour and texture of the facing bricks. The same degree of precision was also applied to the restoration of the old bricks.
The redevelopment is certainly a success – lots of space to feel-good for families in a high-quality brick structure.
Project nameMilho, Oostende, Belgium
Terca Roedelands, Rijnvorm and Koramic Flemish Tile 401 Natural Red
Year of completion2014