PC Caritas - Melle - Belgium
The project for the Psychiatric Clinic Caritas (PC Caritas) by the Belgian architectural practice De Vylder Vinck Tailleu -in cooperation with the research based practice BAVO- encompasses the physical revival of an abandoned villa into a functional annex housing, a series of programs tailoring to both the patients and employees of the healthcare facility that owns the building.
The project was commissioned to the office through a competition.
The constraints imposed by the programmatic restrictions typical of a healthcare facility come at a contrast to the innovative design methodology that characterizes the work of the office, resulting in an intriguing piece of architecture.
The interventions are subtle. The removal of portions of the first floor slab of the original villa permitted both the creation of internal gardens and the insertion of a stepped ampitheatre on the ground level. Components of the program are contained in transparent volumes distributed throughout the building.
PC Caritas can be defined by four transformations: it is an act of renovation, articulated through the addition and subtraction of precisely defined portions of the preceding entity, that converts the overall function of the building.
That four architectural transformations exist simultaneously and blur the distinction between
what had always existed and what was actually the work of the architects. This could even be said of the internal gardens that exist in the ‘new’ facility - one wonders whether they are vestiges from the facility’s years of abandonment or part of the architectural practice’s vision for the future of psychiatric health care facilities.
Moreover, the architects’ decision to subtract portions of the roof structure seem ironic, given the controlled nature of the program. It hence becomes quite challenging to graphically translate the architectural decisions that govern the final design of the project.
[project selected by Hadi Madwar]