The Mahatmi Gandhi neighbourhood is a social housing neighbourhood in the southern suburbs of the city of Mechelen. Social housing corporation Woonpunt Mechelen owns the majority of residences in this neighbourhood. This garden city neighbourhood was built in the 60s and 70s of the last century and was in urgent need of change at the beginning of 2000. Since 2012, the neighbourhood is subject of a large urban renewal project. With a total of 708 residential units and a budget of 59 million EUR, it is the largest and most ambitious renovation project in the history of Woonpunt Mechelen.
Strategically, the Gandhi district social housing project is an important project for the city of Mechelen for several reasons:
- It is a key urban renewal project in the city of Mechelen with high ambitions in terms of sustainability.
- Woonpunt Mechelen is an important stakeholder to engage in the city’s sustainable heating strategy. As a social housing company, it has a significant residential housing stock in the city and it can have a considerable impact to achieve the city’s climate ambitions.
- It is not just about sustainable heating but also about affordable heating. Woonpunt Mechelen can provide valuable input how to address topics such as energy poverty and affordable heating.
- In the past, Woonpunt Mechelen has carried out numerous feasibility studies (exploring a district heating network, solar boilers, PV panels etc.) and can therefore provide important lessons learned from this experience
As part of this urban renewal project, the apartment buildings along the street Jubellaan are demolished and replaced with new apartment buildings. The construction has taken place in three stages. The third and last stage which will start in 2020 includes two building blocks with 66 and 103 dwelling units respectively and single family houses, concerning 169 households.
Initially, the new building blocks would have a collective heating system with a condensing gas boiler. The SHIFFT pilot investment of 425.000 euros relates specifically to a sustainable heating and cooling installation. Woonpunt Mechelen is considering the following heating technologies as sustainable alternative i.e. solar boilers, gas adsorption heatpumps or CHPs (Combined Heat and Power). Depending on the selected heating technology, this will correspond with CO2 emission reduction of 146 ton CO2/year compared to the old building blocks.