1 OPTICIAN, 30 STUDENTS and some ANIMALS / DMOA architects

1 OPTICIAN, 30 STUDENTS and some ANIMALS / DMOA architects

  • 1 OPTICIAN, 30 STUDENTS and some ANIMALS / DMOA architects
  • 1 OPTICIAN, 30 STUDENTS and some ANIMALS / DMOA architects


The road ‘Tiensestraat’ stretches from the center of Leuven to the ring road and is visibly a street of extremes. From the center to the Vesaliusstraat she is very pleasant. The street is airy and flanked by beautiful buildings, squares and parks. In the more peripheral part the street becomes narrow and claustrophobic, predominantly dominated by cars. Many houses are deteriorated and need to be renovated or rebuilt.

Optiek Verhulst has opted to demolish 5 contiguous dwellings and to make a brand new project, housing a large optician’s shop and 30 student rooms with accompanying facilities.

One of the basic concepts of the building is to visually give the Tiensestraat a little more breathing space on this site. Large windows in both the front and rear façade allow a peak from the sidewalk into the large garden behind the building. The green brings a new dimension in the Tiensestraat and the dwarf sheep in the garden provide a slightly surrealistic touch; are we still in a city?

The façade of the building is fragmented. Instead of one large facade, the building has 5 somewhat different facades. As a result, the building finds more connection with the buildings around it. The facades are staggered in the depth and the cornices vary. Every facade has its own brick and mason method, without losing unity.

The store is conceived as an empty factory space that can be filled up freely. The ceiling out of concrete beams and the oak parquet floor are the only constants. Independently from the volatile content of the store, they ensure the right atmosphere.

On the right is the entrance for the students. These are guided through a brick-enclosed outdoor staircase to the three floors housing the student rooms. The corridor of each floor opens into a shared kitchen. On the top floor the rooms have a spacious south oriented terrace.

The building has a very open character, both in terms of program and development. Hopefully this sets the tone to bring some 'enlightenment' into this unattractive part of the Tiensestraat.

Extra Info

Architect: DMOA architects
Collaboraters: Benjamin Denef, Matthias Mattelaer, Marleen Rosier, Inge Stuyckens, Dries Van de Poel
Design of: architecture, interior of student rooms and landscaping
Engineering: Archimedes
Finished: 2014
Site area: 892 m²
Footprint: 372 m²
Total area: 1680 m² in 6 floors
Photographer: Thomas Janssens
Filmmaker: Motion In Sync