On site visit, the Zinneke

BE Final Event, which took place from 16 to 17 November 2021, workshops and a visit to a construction site took place on the second day. More than 50 participants headed along the Kanal to the Zinneke, a project for the extraction and integration of reused materials in situ and ex situ.

Our group was given a tour of the project by Michael Ghyoot of Rotor. The role of the ASBL was to assist the client and the architectural firm Ouest Architecture in their approach to the reuse of construction materials. The Rotor team has followed and will continue to follow the project very closely during the next years of renovations of the Zinneke buildings



Its renovation was based on 5 objectives:

Maintaining the existing building, preserving what could be preserved in the structure of the buildings.

Promoting the reuse of materials in the project, despite the formal context and the solicitation of the public sector that made the reuse of materials more tedious to implement, the approach was carried out both in extraction and integration, in situ and ex situ. For example, among the materials that were reused in situ, we count the bricks of certain walls present on the site and which were dismantled adequately to the objective of reuse fixed upstream. In the ex situ products integrated in the construction site, these are materials that have been recovered on the reuse market. These steps were carried out in the collaboration of the 3 actors involved, the designer, the owner and the contractor: in Bouwteam, in a process of co-development, called by Michael: the 3 musketeers.

Favouring the flexibility of the project, in its design for the future, by anticipating the other possible uses of the building after the current ones and by working on the reversibility of the design.

Solicitation of the Zinneke team in the works, participants in the various workshops and trainings such as carpentry, construction workshop, etc. were asked to put their hands to work.

We had the opportunity to go through the "storage room", a key part of the organization of reuse, as you know that to reintegrate materials, in situ or ex situ, in a project, you have to know how to store them somewhere. The need to reserve a space in the building for this purpose was obvious throughout the project. This room will be kept for the Zinneke teams later on as a "resourcerie" center. In addition, the garden of a neighboring house was used for the storage of larger pieces of the ongoing renovation.

It is therefore a group of actors who are committed to the project and who have come together around the same desire: to move away from traditional renovation by integrating circular principles into a common project.

The rest of the visit was carried out in two sub-groups, in order to go through the different buildings more easily, starting with "the castle". This second part of the visit allowed us to see the materials reused and implemented in the new buildings.

Some of the materials reused are sometimes at the initiative of the owner, sometimes at the initiative of the contractor himself and also under the proposal of the designer, so these have been completed throughout the project until now. It is a way of working that is encouraged in the project in general.

- The door of the steel workshop, with glued laminated wood, the contractor proposed to reuse part of the door that separated the two workshops inside and use it to delimit the two rooms.

- The staircase in the inner courtyard, very late in the process, the architect incorporated a staircase found 1 kilometer away from the Zinneke construction site. It was a last minute job that involved everyone in the first step, the simulation of the integration of the imposing piece into the courtyard, and in the final integration. The second part of the staircase is used in another part of the building. In terms of timing, it was very short because the piece was found one week before the submission of the permit application for the project.


- Insulation, wooden shelves, a fire door and glass windows: the cafeteria is full of reused materials. The shelves in the back of the cafeteria have been given a second life, as has the old ladder that provides access to them. Behind the numerous OSB panels, we find a batch of insulation panels from another building that was salvaged at a ridiculously low price. The glass part is entering its third life cycle. Previously used as exterior glass, it remains in the project but is used in the interior. The fire door comes from an office building in Paris. Difficult to reuse as a fire door because it would have to comply with strict regulations to be up to standards, it is used as a simple door in this project, so without obligations in terms of function.

 -We cross the garden to arrive in the next building, which is already characterized on the outside by its thirty windows of completely different types. These windows are from the reuse, and were part of the tender without knowing which batch of windows would be integrated.

- In this same building, which was originally 2 typical Brussels houses, the floor is based on recovered parquet, part of the furniture comes from recovery as well as the main door and the fireplace. The white interior staircases are not reused because the work is too precise. Note that the solid oak floor has encountered some difficulties for its implementation. Although much cheaper than a new floor of this quality, it took a little more time to prepare for reuse upstream because in general the new is directly ready to use.

- The ventilation, also reused, comes from a downtown renovation. It was the organization of the transfer that caused some difficulties as well as the coordination and gathering of agreements from the different actors. The responsibility for the proper functioning of the machine was transferred from the first owner to the next without engaging the responsibility of the contractor. The latter is only responsible for the implementation of the machine on the site. The guarantee of the proper functioning of the machine rests with the contractors of Zinneke who accepted this risk because the replacement of a part of the machine is not so expensive.

This visit of this project integrating the reuse allowed the participants to realize the stakes related to the reuse in a concrete case, to see in which framework the tools developed by the project can be used and also to meet in a less formal way and in person for the closing of this first part of the Interreg NWE FCRBE project.


Author of the article: Confederation Construction

Original Article

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