Gumm cohousing

A cohousing project in Mechelen that will soon offer a home to residents of 24 units and one parsonage.

Gumm in Mechelen is a cohousing project that offers a home to residents of 23 units and 1 vicarage. Values such as ecology, architecture and living together are central. In addition to common areas such as a laundry bar, guest rooms, multi-purpose rooms, etc., the residents will also share a large ecological garden.

On the corner of the Kerkhoflei and the Vrouwvlietstraat in Mechelen, a school complex, including an art-deco church and a vicarage, is being transformed into a cohousing project. The design of Gumm cohousing, commissioned by Burgerlijke Maatschap Gummaar, is in the hands of DENC!-STUDIO. The renovations are carried out by G-build and PxP. The project consists of 23 units in the old school buildings, where families, singles and couples without children find a place to live together in a socially committed and ecologically sustainable way. In addition, an adjoining house and the vicarage, which are part of the site, will also be renovated at their own pace. The residents of both will also be part of the cohousing.

In Mechelen, work began in early 2020 to create a shared place for young and old. In Gumm Cohousing, values such as ecology, architecture and living together are central. In 2021 and 2022, the old playground and parsonage garden will be transformed into a green oasis: the Gumm Garden. Gumm is more than just cohousing. The old church building will be transformed into the Gummzaal, a multipurpose hall intended for (neighbourhood) activities. 

Cohousing is a community of private homes clustered around shared spaces. Gumm residents thus share, among other things: a multipurpose room with a kitchen, a reading room, a hobby room and several guest rooms. In the boys' school there will be a shared laundry bar and next to the rectory, the residents can use a studio. The purpose of cohousing is to facilitate interaction between neighbours, while providing social, practical, economic and ecological benefits.

The 23 residential units in the old school buildings will be converted to be Nearly Energy Neutral (BEN). A BEN residential unit consumes little energy for heating, ventilation, cooling and hot water. Moreover, all of this energy comes from green sources, such as geothermal heat pumps and solar panels. Sun blinds on the windows and an inset structure prevent overheating. The heat pumps in the residential units, the Gumm garden and the green roofs and facades provide the necessary cooling.

In the realisation of Gumm Cohousing, reconversion is central. This means that the future of the city and of housing is determined by what is already there. For example, the 23 residential units are built in the existing structure, which has been extended with timber frames, old classrooms have been converted into family homes and an old corridor has been given a new purpose as a laundry bar. Yet the existing character is preserved as much as possible: historical details are preserved and reused as much as possible, and damage is repaired, but allowed to remain visible.