2012 – 2014
The former Vander Elst cigar factory, which is based in Leuven, has undergone a big makeover. Where once the sounds of industrial machines and the smell of tobacco dominated, Jaspers-Eyers Architects has created an inner city oasis. A mix of residential units, offices and shops around a succession of green outdoor spaces.
The gardens are accessible from the Tiensevest and the Arnould Nobelstraat. Although the gardens are connected with each other, they each have their own unique atmosphere and character. From the Arnould Nobelstraat one enters the large central courtyard. This courtyard is distinguished from the other gardens by its central location and design. The raised planters in corten steel form a diagonal movement towards the different passageways. A series of steps have been placed between the planters and basins to accommodate the height differences.
The planters are planted with ornamental grasses. The soft and smooth forms of the grasses soften the clean lines and create a connection between the different elements. The Katsura trees (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) which have been planted in raised planters covered with Ivy provide the desired shade. This narrow cultivar has a pyramidal growth and is characterized by its beautiful autumn leaf color.
From the Tiensevest one enters one of the smaller intimate gardens which surround the building. Various multi-trunk trees and shrubs (Magnolia, Prunus, Cornus, …) accentuate the romantic character of the garden. Along the outer edges, some larger trees enhance the intimate atmosphere. A curving path lead visitors to the other small gardens.
One of these gardens is characterized by large, rounded massifs of evergreen Ilex crenata ‘Blondie’. The terraces, which have been hidden between the massifs, give users of the adjacent building the opportunity to have meetings and/or to enjoy their lunch outside.
On the west side you will find an enclosed garden which is positioned between the building and the entrance of the underground garage. Ellipse-shaped beds of roses give the garden a playful character. The use of different shapes and an interesting tree selection (Nothofagus antartica) brings balance to the garden.