Project type
Mixed urban project
Project status
Under construction

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Niefhout in Turnhout

Niefhout in Turnhout is a striking example of ambitious urban renewal. The emphasis in this new district is on connection, inclusion, and community.


Bareelstraat 55 - 2300 Turnhout

PMV, City of Turnhout & Slim Turnhout
Comprehensive urban renewal

The Niefhout project focuses on comprehensive urban renewal, With the team behind it breathing new life into a former industrial site and creating an entirely new urban district. Niefhout has different housing types, as well as offices and care facilities, supplemented with lots of green space.

Neighbourhood participation

What makes this project stand out is the active involvement of the City of Turnhout and the community in the development of Niefhout. The emphasis is on connection, inclusion, and society. The city played a crucial role in shaping an intergenerational community by purchasing extra-care housing and operating a local community centre.

Sustainability and environmentally conscious development

Sustainability is a common theme throughout the development. Abandoned industrial sites are given a new lease of life with the support of the Flemish Urban Renewal Fund. The new district will have a district heating grid powered by environmentally friendly sources. Turnhout is thus a forerunner in ecologically conscious urban development.

Niefhout facts & figures

  • Project launch: 2012
  • Master plan partners: City of Turnhout, PMV, ION
  • Phases: 6
  • Residential units: 600 to 700 housing units
  • Office space: 18,500 square metres under development
  • Care facilities: Retirement home, 60 extra-care housing units

2012: the start of a pioneering project

Niefhout's story started in 2012 when the City of Turnhout and ION joined forces, jointly acquiring the land from timber merchant Foresco and metal processing plant Atelfond. The old factories that once dominated Turnhout's industrial landscape became the starting point for a pioneering project that will transform the city.

The vision of the City of Turnhout was externalised in the Niefhout project. ION joined forces with NV Blairon and Participatie Maatschappij Vlaanderen (PMV) in NV SLIM Turnhout (an acronym for Stedelijk Leven Innoverend Maken). Together, they developed a master plan in six phases for the construction of 600 to 700 residential units, offices, a retirement home and extra-care flats.

The project only really began to take shape between 2014 and 2018/20, with the start of the first phase. The 144 houses and flats symbolise change in Turnhout. Old factories made way for modern housing, a real turning point for the city.

A crucial milestone in the Niefhout project was reached in 2019, with the start of phase 2, with 200 units. The Pioneersgebouw, essentially the development's heart, was also completed. The building is particularly important because it will serve as a local community centre, further strengthening the neighbourhood and bringing people together.

Strong neighbourhood participation

A crucial aspect of Niefhout is the emphasis on care and health, wellbeing, and living together. The project aims to meet the community's needs with an intergenerational approach, which explains the construction of 60 extra-care housing units. The City of Turnhout plays an active role in defining the project's orientation, putting the principle of a caring neighbourhood into practice.

The 20,000 m2 of new public domain – in the form of parks, an exercise garden, a water feature and an expansive meeting square – aims to bring people together. The abundant greenery boosts the quality of life of anyone living nearby and is managed by the city.

The scale of the project makes Niefhout a home for several generations with small and large family dwellings, flats, a retirement home, offices, etc. Thanks to all the additional amenities (such as a community centre, a daycare facility, and neighbourhood support functions), residents and visitors enjoy a good quality of life here.

Excellent architecture, inspired by the past

Niefhout's architecture is modern, young and innovative. The use of brick architecture and the reference to the old roof structure lend the development a uniquely aesthetic appeal, which is unsurprising given that SLIM worked with several leading architects for the project. B-architecten and Bureau B+B Stedenbouw & Landschapsarchitectuur were tasked with elaborating the study brief for the creation of a spatial development vision after a competition. POLO Architects was selected to develop the architectural brief for Phase 1 and the Pioniersgebouw. TriAS Architects designed the Vliegenier building, with Stramien creating the office buildings.

A sustainable future thanks to the district heating grid

The district heating grid in Niefhout is unique in that it has high-temperature and low-temperature zones. The high-temperature network is powered by gas and wood pellets. In contrast, the low-temperature network relies on cold heat storage (KWO), using geothermal heat as a generator. Fluvius and VLEOA are involved in its construction.

Looking ahead to 2027

Niefhout's future looks promising. Planning permission has been granted for two new buildings, called Vliegenier and Armonea.

The new Vliegenier residential development will have 97 flats and ground-floor office space. The development responds to the high demand for modern housing in Turnhout.

Armonea will operate a retirement home at Niefhout, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2026. Armonea signed a 27-year lease, playing a vital role in Turnhout's healthcare infrastructure.

18,500 m² of office space

The next phase in the Niefhout project is the planned construction of 18,500 square metres of office space. On the one hand, these offices respond to the demand for space to do business and offer many opportunities for synergies between companies, which will positively impact Turnhout's further economic development.

Final phase

ION sold the land to the south of the site to a social housing society. On the corner of Bareelstraat and Merodelei, De Woonboog will create a mix of 60 rental and owner-occupied houses, preserving the façade of the old Atelfond. The diverse offering promotes the creation of an inclusive community.


The final phase of the Niefhout project, in the north-eastern part of the site, is scheduled for 2028-2032, during which a further 18,500 square metres of residential units will be developed. Blocks of flats and single-family dwellings will be built around a central park, with an underground parking garage.

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