Arriving at the offices of Twyce, a firm of architects and engineers in Brussels, we are struck by three things: a display explaining the ‘Coarchi’ concept, parking for bicycles, and an access ramp for people with reduced mobility. The firm’s participatory approach and sense of social responsibility are tangible. Interview with Christophe De Nys, co-founder of Twyce Architects.

Tell us about Twyce and how it started.

Michel Toussaint and I are both civil engineers and architects. We founded Twyce in 2008. Now based in Auderghem, the firm employs around ten people. The projects we work on today are extremely diverse. We started out doing lots of individual housing, then multi-unit housing and co-housing (or grouped housing), which we continue to focus on. Nowadays, our projects increasingly focus on buildings open to the public, such as schools, sports, healthcare or cultural facilities, but we also work on office and outdoor facilities projects. In housing, we mainly focus on multi-unit housing, and within that the model we favour is that of co-housing.

Your approach to your projects and how they are modelled is sensitive yet rigorous. This level of precision benefits your customers. Does it also benefit urban planning?

We create our projects exclusively based on three-dimensional models, and a landscape and urban planning context that is as broad as possible. This transparent and comprehensive approach enables our client to better understand and envisage the project as a whole, and to assess whether it reflects their personal ambitions. In urban planning, we want to use digital tools to faithfully represent the project as it will look in real life, and how it will be seen from the public space. This includes vegetation, views, shadow projections etc.


Tell us about COARCHI!

Coarchi is a contraction of ‘Collaborative’ and ‘Architecture’. Under the Coarchi banner, we have developed a new profession: the design of and full support for co-housing projects. We have developed a very large network of people wishing to participate in a co-housing project with Coarchi (currently around 250 individuals or families). We also look for exceptional land or buildings suitable for such projects for these clients. We then train the groups and support them, from the building’s feasibility studies through to project completion, following a broadly participatory process. Our methodology allows us to help our clients to create and move into a co-housing project that suits them, within an extremely short time frame for this type of project: around 15 to 20 months. Our objective is to complete 4 to 6 projects of this type per year.

Has this evolution been reflected in the digital tools that you use?

When we first started up, we had AutoCAD LT and SketchUp. Then, in 2014,a geometrically complex project required us to switch to more effective software that allowed us to create multiple sections. We chose Revit, and we are pleased with it. It did require an overhaul of our working method, but this investment is unquestionably beginning to bear fruit. One of the key benefits for us is the fact that Revit is highly configurable. This enables us to circumvent any post-production, thanks to a gradual and systematic configuration of the different stages in Revit.




What benefits have you identified in BIM?

A reduced margin for error between different plans, between graphics documents and quantities, but also the instantaneous production of good quality images without having to remodel the project in a rendering programme. As part of our comprehensive and transparent approach, these are undeniable assets for the client and for urban planning. We also hope to develop BIM partnerships with the design firms with which we work closely, and we hope to be able to carry out energy performance (EPB) calculations on the basis of the Revit design in the near future.


How is the collaboration with TASE going?

We value the fact that TASE is so dedicated to BIM, and we are expecting a lot from BIMEX: a 400 m² BIM experience centre at the forefront of technological innovation that TASE is opening. We hope to be able to use it to benefit from more of their multidisciplinary experience, and to refine our own!