In 1906, the working class houses in the Zebrastraat, built around a central oval square, were a wonderful example of innovative architecture. Unfortunately, due to a lack of investment, the site was gradually neglected and in complete decay by the 1990s. However, the tide would soon turn : in 2003, the Liedts-Meesen Foundation purchased the buildings and began the rehabilitation of the ‘Cirk’. From the very start of the renovation, the option was taken to bring together under one roof three main social activities, also called the three "pillars", on which the project Zebrastraat would grow.
At first instance, the original residential function was maintained: the pillar LIVING today still includes 72 apartments in the buildings surrounding the centre square. These are homes families can rent for short periods, starting from three months on. This creates a special mix of tenants. In addition, some furnished apartments are for rent to visitors who stay as a guest for only a few days or weeks.
Secondly, a major economic activity was developed: the pillar SEMINAR ROOMS & EVENTS of Zebrastraat leases five fully equipped seminar rooms for academic conferences, seminars and board meetings. These rooms open onto a central lounge with bar, lounge, restaurant area and a fully equipped kitchen. All types of catering are possible, from simple coffee breaks to sophisticated dinners. In addition, the team of the Zebrastraat is also responsible for the overall organization of complex events such as product presentations, staff parties and fairs in the exhibition wing or in the tent in the central square.
Whereas the first two pillars are managed in an economically justified way, this consideration is of no importance to the pillar CULTURE Zebrastraat not only puts its infrastructure at the disposal, free of charge, for exhibitions, concerts, debates, film screenings and try-outs in order to create a forum to young artists and experimental currents; Zebrastraat besides also invests actively in organizing its own exhibitions and cultural events, among which the biennial "update" of the latest developments in the technological art is perhaps the best known example. It is not that difficult to bring together these three different activities under one roof. The actual and constant challenge lies in the cross-fertilization: only when the three pillars meet, mix together and - occasionally – collide with one another can a real added value be created. This is why the initiative ZebraPoint was founded: every Thursday residents, artists and seminar participants come together in the bar on the occasion of previews, concerts, debates or simply to have a friendly chat. It is then that Zebrastraat shows its true face.
In 2013, Zebrastraat was extended with the new building New Zebra. There too, the three pillars are combined. There are 36 apartments and studios, a large conference room with a bar, and the restaurant Jour de Fête located. Additionally Zebrastraat was extended with an underground parking for 98 cars, an atrium and a third bar. Spread throughout the site also more than 25 works from the permanent art collection are on display.