The architecture competition
In response to the challenge of integrating into a valuable historical urban environment with innovation and creativity, we felt that the best strategy was to organise an architectural competition.
In our quest for architectural quality, we called upon the assistance of Olivier Bastin, Master Architect at the Ministry of the Brussels-Capital Region, to help define the competition procedure.
The Master Architect suggested a ‘negotiated procedure’. This assesses a preliminary sketch and then correlates the ambitions of the client with the conceptual and methodological responses of the tenderer.
In more concrete terms, we set up a constructive and fruitful permanent dialogue, not only with the architects but also with the authorities of the Region and the City. We brought in an advisory committee whose members helped the client to decide.
The design of be baumschlager eberle came as the winning project out of the competition.
The competition aimed to identify a project uniting a highly urban composition and high environmental quality with user-friendly public/semi public and private spaces.
Urban integration is reached by optimizing the new building as an integral part of Brussels’ fabric. The architects respected and applied the historical morphology of the traditional inner city – her streets, squares and inner spaces – in a ‘building with courtyards’.
The height of the new building respects its neighbours, and the building has numerous, but subtle references to the urban structure. The new ‘swinging’ volume follows the historical building line and is lower than the towers of the existing building. Subtle set-backs in the facades refer to the cornice height of the surrounding buildings. The street façades strongly define the identity of the building: they show a delicate and elegant bearing structure. Vertical columns, prefabricated with white concrete and green iridescent gravel aggregate, have variable sections depending on the façade details and respective height which combine to create a smooth curved feature.
Variations in rhythm articulate the building volume whilst the accesses emphasize the level transitions and the outline of the building volumetry. By this, a strong dynamic is introduced enriching the façade.