Visit to The Spiegel

On 14 January 2023 around 18 Reeflings got the opportunity to visit The Spiegel, rue des Wallons 30, 1090, Jette. We were also lucky enough to be able to visit 3 people’s private homes. Here’s a quick report on the main points and things we learned.
Feel free to integrate, review, add your thoughts and impressions in the thread below!

  • Roadmap:

    • 2015:
      • 4/5 couples started this amazing adventure, 1 couple already living in this neighbourhood and played the role of “ambassadors”
      • They found this area using a specific website more for ex-industrial areas, it was on sale already from 3 years
      • 2 conditions to proceed:
        • The Commune de Jette to reclassify from industrial to residential status
        • Cleaning up polluted area
    • 2018:
      • The site was compliant with the two conditions above.
      • They bought and paid for the site
      • They started looking for an entrepreneur, not easy to find one. It took one year to have one.
    • 2022:
      • First Families
    • 2023:
      • The Spiegel is complete at 12 units
  • The Building:

    • Common areas
      • Internal Parking spots
      • Kitchen/common room
      • Bicibox (in progress)
      • ?
    • Passive building
      • Solar panels
      • Heat pump
    • Private units: studios (around 50 m2), apartments and duplex
      • Every unit has one balcony or terrace
    • At that time they receive a monetary incentives from the government (according to @Lee: 250 EUR x m2. This subsidy is no longer in place, sadly).
    • Soundproof of the apartments is not good as expected in some units → acoustic insulation is an important aspect we need to address well for the Reef
  • How they collaborate:

    • They are using some inputs/best practices from sociocracy, especially for nonverbal communication, but in general are really flexible and open
      • They never had to vote
    • Monthly meeting
    • Division in groups: communication/engagement/gardening/external relationships/maintenance

Thank you for the report! Just adding a few other points that I remember:

  • Renovating part of the industrial site (instead of destroying and replacing it) allowed them to get a 6% tax rate instead of 21%

  • Most units have outdoor blinds to keep sunheat out in the summer

  • Common areas: all-purpose room (“casquette” where we met), laundry room, courtyard, car and bike parking.


Great writeups, thank you! Here are some additions on my part from my notes:

  • in the design of the site there has been a lot of input from the fire brigade, who demanded an entrance of 4 meters wide and X meters high so the firetruck could fit through, and parts of the inner walkway and central square had to have reinforced soil so it could take the weight of the firetruck.
  • to make the current building volumes energy passive, about 35cm of insulation was used, using typical rock wool isolation. The specifics of insulation use differ greatly dependent on the volume, creating one big block like brutopia generally needs less exterior insulation.
  • unforeseen cost of paying the Brussels government for ‘stedenbouwkundige lasten’ because they were seen as a promotor of their site while they were finding people to complete the group with. This cost them about 82K EUR.
  • the group is set up and has bought the site as a typical copropriété. the copro meets about once a year, but everyone is part of the Spiegel ASBL, and most meetings (monthly) are done as the ASBL. Focusing on the ASBL allows them to connect with other orgs throughout Jette to really be part of the social fabric of the neighborhood.
  • they have several working groups: communication, garden, common rooms, technical/maintenance
  • most of the finishings of the units were done through the same entrepreneur that delivered the casco buildings

Thanks to everyone who contributed! Here are some learnings that stayed with me:

  1. The site was optioned not by 70% of the group, but by one third: only four families.
  2. The site is a mix of renovation (VAT at 6%) at new construction (VAT at 21%). They chose to split the total VAT by square meter across all units, so that everyone paid something like 15% of VAT.
  3. Most units were finished by the same enterprise who delivered the CASCO (which I think is a smart model).