Urban renewal of a former industrial site on the fringe of the Brussels' capital
2014 - competition design
The terrain of the former Stillemans’ factories is located on the edge of the Brussels’ metropolis. A hybrid urban area with an unusual and complex mix of dwelling, infrastructure, industrial activity, informal economy and remnants of a disappearing agricultural hinterland.
The influence of Europe’s capital is clearly perceivable and creates an interesting but vulnerable contrast with the open landscape. The presence of this landscape is the main leidmotif in the design.
To understand and map the complexity of this exercise, the site was approached on three scales. Starting from the territorial scale of the Brussels’ territory to the site of an urban project and the architectural scale of a building. These three levels are superimposed and start to enforce each other’s’ logic.
The Brussels’ territory
On this scale the presence of the Molenbeek reveals a city-wide network of green spaces, all connected through the valley. The terrain of Stillemans’ has the potential to plug into these network and become an important interface between the urban fabric of Brussels’ and its surrounding landscape. Moreover it becomes a new link in a chain of open green spaces.
The Stillemans’ site
Zooming in on the current site, reveals a closed and impenetrable building block. As a result of the industrial activity the entire block is perceived as a massive concrete block. Starting from this metaphor a new urban fabric is ‘carved’ based on the route of the Molenbeek and new connections.
The Building block
Finally different typologies of building blocks are developed, each with regard to their specific location in the overall plan. The approach of the building block creates a framework for a phased development while simultaneously allowing sufficient freedom for a diverse and qualitative architectural development.