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The highly symbolic pilot project “House Biloba”

Our Belgian member SLRB invests in social innovation

Brussels, 10 March 2016 | Social
The building site of House Biloba
The building site of House Biloba

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.

Initially, bringing together common will, a partnership…

The first step towards the development of the pilot was the establishment of a partnership between E.MM.A, a cooperative with a social goal, Foyer Schaerbeekois, a local social housing association and SLRB which is the subsidizing authority. All three partners were convinced of the added value of having an intergenerational and multicultural place for the elderly, in a popular Brussels district.

Secondly, a project that addresses specific needs…

“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.

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.

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.

Allocation of roles

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.

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Care for all…

The community room is designed as a meeting place for residents of the building. The day care centre in turn will be the meeting place for local residents and tenants. Finally, the open space in the heart of the building is supposed to also allow meetings and encourage new friendships.

The construction of Biloba at the specific site symbolises its longevity and vitality that goes hand in hand with the respective characteristics of its tenants.

Apart from Biloba, SLRB and its partners will be staying focused in their mission for social innovation with a series of other projects. We will keep you posted…

* Biloba House will be inaugurated on April 15th 2016

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