YUST, an acronym of ‘Young Urban Style’, opened in March 2019 and is based in Antwerp’s Harmonie neighbourhood. The innovate project, which combines co-housing with a ho(s)tel, co-working spaces, an events venue and a restaurant, is situated in a former telephone factory.
Freedom in the form of flexibility
Stéphane Verbeeck, the CEO of real estate developer Gands Group, originally had the idea for YUST. There is currently a clear trend towards the ‘mass production’ of small apartments in the real estate market, leading to the saturation of the rental market. Nowadays, 70% of all buyers think of apartments as an investment that they can rent out. Gands Group has plenty of experience with different types of residential projects. They thought that there was potential for offering apartments with services to young people starting out in the housing market. Millennials prefer flexible living in the city rather than settling at a young age. They also drive growth in the sharing economy, preferring shared goods rather than owning everything themselves. The unique YUST concept is the result of in-depth market research, brainstorming sessions and panel discussions with the hotel industry, among others.
Four in one: co-housing + hotel + hostel + restaurant
The 7,500 m2 housing project consists of 75 stylishly furnished apartments that you can rent from a month to a year. Every apartment has a fitted kitchen, bed linens and all the mod cons (air conditioning, TV, Wi-Fi, etc.). Residents can use the rooftop terrace, the cleaning service, shared bikes, a gym, a co-working space and a laundry service. There is a hotel on the building’s first floor, to ensure the extensive range of services continues to be profitable and facilitate flexible accommodation for anything from one day to one year. Guests have the choice of a bed in a dorm, a family room, a double room or a suite. The hotel has 25 rooms and 132 beds.
YUST talk to strangers
The ground floor at YUST is divided into a private and a public section. Guests have access to a lobby with a reception desk, a kitchen, workspaces and a meeting room. They can also use the shared bicycles and the Poppy shared cars that are parked outside at the charging stations. The public section includes a restaurant with a food sharing menu, an exhibition space for local artists and a pop-up events space. YUST wants to promote a sense of community, which is why the role of its events manager is so crucial within the team. The programme includes talks by keynote speakers, yoga classes, the monthly Sunday brunch and film evenings. The well-attended events are popular with both guests and neighbourhood residents. In other words, YUST’s mission to counter social isolation in an atypical manner is a success.
The perfect picture
The industrial building where YUST is located was renovated by POLO Architects. A steel structure was positioned on top of the historic building, creating an interesting interplay of light and shadows. The cosy interior was developed in close collaboration with the YUST team and is a mix of vintage and design, with terrazzo floors, marble tables, wooden cabinets and specially-designed elements by Stephanie Parein and Caroline De Cuyper. YUST has also thought of its carbon footprint. The solar panels and the LG battery on the roof provide the energy for the Poppy electric charging stations and a number of wall sockets in the building. This is also the first hotel project in Belgium to work with TakeAir, a Ghent-based start-up, which improves air quality in buildings, by adding beneficial micro-organisms to the air.
YUST hopes to become a European chain that offers co-housing options. The idea is that members would thus be able to stay in different projects. So, for example, members could live in Antwerp for a month and then pack up to move to Amsterdam for a month. The first steps towards a YUST network have already been taken, with openings scheduled in Brussels and Liège in 2021. The project was recently nominated for the Best Concept Hospitality ON Award, which only proves that the innovative idea behind YUST has a promising future.
This is an article from the brochure ‘10 inspirerende logies van de toekomst’.