This 9000sqm retail and housing development includes the exhaustive but careful renovation of a delicate century-old steel and concrete structure nestled in the heart of a typical city block in the dense neighbourhood of Ixelles. The client Redevco Belgium and architectesassoc are pushing to integrate both retail and housing here, keen on proving that neither of the two is necessarily exclusive. That said, as in any tried-and-true couple compromises reign : goods and truck accesses have been concentrated on the site’s north-facing albeit a bit narrow side-street, thus reserving sunny chaussée d’Ixelles for housing. New volumes within the block are limited, additions made mostly in order to get maximum light into living spaces. Inside the grand central hall the lace-like structure will remain apparent, strategically but discreetly re-inforced. Engineers Setesco and FTI have been both inventive and prudent, conforming to today’s stringent fire-safety laws, energy-efficiency requirements and market-sensitive demands.