Architect in the spotlight: DO MODUS

Do Modus: Socially relevant architecture

Contributing to a better living environment. That is the main objective of architectural firm Do Modus from Zonhoven. “We realise the dreams of our clients and build a more sustainable and social climate”, says business manager Nicole Driesen.

In 1989, Driesen completed her architectural training with tons of ambition. 28 years later, she puts her architectural creativity to the test together with two employees under the label of Do Modus. “Do Modus means ‘Way in which everything is done’,” explains Driesen. “With each project you are, in addition to architect, also coordinator and conductor. We get everybody of the different parties – engineering companies, contractor, client, etc. – on the same wavelength.” The firm is mainly active in the housing construction and designs single-family homes, group homes, apartments and social housing projects. But also some commercial projects are part of the portfolio.

“Each house – either individually or as part of a larger project – must be a real home for its residents”, says Driesen. “How do we achieve that? By aiming to provide creative and practical solutions with an optimal balance between utilisation, coordination, perception and imagination. A design should not only be beautiful, but above all be practical and socially relevant.”

Seamless environmental Integration

With the Grote Heide project, Do Modus has given the village centre in Neerpelt extra impetus. The building project combines seventeen apartments with four ground-oriented residential buildings. Driesen: “We connected three buildings, and thus created a private square wall with the appropriate openings, vistas and transition zones. As a result, we encourage social contacts and ensure social control, safety and privacy. All residents have a view of a beautiful area with its surrounding life: the church square, the traffic-free inner area and the playground.”

It is an appropriate integration in the surroundings without being a grey mouse. Driesen approached Nelissen Bricks with those project conditions. “Nelissen immediately spook the same language”, Driesen recalls. “I wanted a robust and timeless, but at the same time also fresh, nuanced and sustainable look for Grote Heide without losing sight of the cost. Nelissen responded perfectly to this. The manufacturer even adjusted its offer to meet our needs. No cost or effort have been spared to obtain the desired appearance within the required price range. The client and contractor were immediately convinced when we proposed new samples in combination with the other facade materials. The brick variants Arte, Grey Sintered and Muria were the final choice.”

The choice of brick together with the use of other facade and roof elements resulted into a beautiful and harmonious combination. “We consciously chose neutral main colours in the brickwork to allow for some colour accents with other, more temporary materials”, explains Driesen. “Thus, the entrance areas were accentuated with an inviting orange sheet material.”

Many aesthetic possibilities

Do Modus aims to provide timeless designs with personality. According to Driesen, bricks fit perfectly in this picture. “Bricks guarantee a long life span and do not require maintenance. The impact of the time and weather conditions is minimal. As a designer, you also have a wide range of formats and types of masonry bonds available to give the concept appearance and to work out details that fit a contemporary or country style. You can also apply different finishings, such as whitewash or painting, which provide many aesthetic possibilities in renovation projects.”

In addition, the firm recognises very much the importance of durability and efficiency. “We prefer rather local products with a very good price-quality ratio, which are readily available and easy to process. A Nelissen brick embodies all those features”, concludes Driesen.