As part of the objective of the Brussels government to diversify the supply of social housing, SLRB – the parent body of the Brussels social housing sector examined and developed a framework aiming to encourage innovative projects that meet concrete housing needs. This is how the success story with the linguistically diverse name “Maison Biloba Huis” (Biloba House) came to life in the heart of a popular neighbourhood of Brussels. Biloba is a pilot project of community housing, specifically dedicated to the elderly.
Whoever talks about “innovative housing” very often also refers to “adaptations” of the technical and administrative framework to the specificities of these dwellings and their inhabitants.
Thus, in the case of the “Biloba House”, the local social housing company, Le Foyer Schaerbeek, will be responsible for the housing management and construction while the association E.MM.A. will be responsible for the day care centre and the community room.
This innovative set aims to meet social housing needs tailored to the elderly in a neighbourhood of an increasingly ageing population. The existing stock in the area cannot adequately address the challenge.
“Biloba House” consists of 15 units of senior housing, a community room and a day care centre, located on the ground floor of the building which is open to the whole neighbourhood.
BILOBA is a place where seniors in the neighbourhood have their place as active citizens of the area and where they have social networks. This neighbourhood is their familiar environment. It is an open house in the middle of the district and the inhabitants feel responsible for taking care of it. It is a meeting place, anchor point and solitary housing. Biloba strives to ensure that the seniors who live there, or those who live at home or with one of their children, can age in a dignified way.
Probably, the most important contribution of the project’s integrated approach is that it manages to keep the ageing population within its environment without moving them out of a place where most of them have spent almost their whole lives.