The pronunciation of “Savonnerie” rhymes with “gluten-free.” It’s French for “soap factory.”
Savonnerie Heymans in Brussels, Belgium, used to be just that–an old abandoned soap factory–but has since been transformed into eco real estate by the green designers at MDW Architecture. The old structure is now a new housing complex that sparkles with glass and is complemented by green courtyards and trees.
The modern eco-friendly building preserves all of the original historical structure, which has been renovated with an eye on energy savings. Even the old chimney, which was so important during the building’s soap-making days, was converted into a ventilation system for the building’s underground garage.
Eco-friendly insulation made of hemp and expanded cork was added, which has raised one of the building’s performance so much it can function primarily on passive solar heating, getting the rest of its heat from only 15kw of energy per square meter every year. Solar panels provide the eco real estate site with sanitary hot water, and rainwater is collected for use in the toilets.
A total of 42 total living apartments are present in the eco real estate property, each of which has a glass-enclosed loggias, or arcade, on the external wall. This glass enclosure contributes to bioclimatic conditions that provide insulation from noise pollution and heat as well as enhance energy efficiency.
The eco real estate at the Savonnerie Heymans boasts studios, lofts, apartments with one to six bedrooms, maisonettes, and duplexes. It also has a number of areas for social meetings, events, a gaming room, a “mini-forest,” a playground, a landscaped park, and a promenade.
Living in an old soap factory doesn’t sound so bad. It’s no wonder the eco real estate is up for the green technology award Prix Bruxelles Horta 2012.