Although not protected as a monument, the Pacheco building from 1969 is undoubtedly an extraordinary building. The influences of Modernism are clearly perceptible in Marcel Lambrichs' design. The building is catalogued as 'corporate Modernism' of the 1960s, with its characteristic exo-structure and building panels with a glass façade behind. The plinth contains an intimate inner garden designed by René Pechère, with a sculptural concrete wall designed by Pierre Culot. On Kruidtuinlaan, a monumental work of art by Jacques Moeschal, "The Nine Provinces", was integrated.
After the departure of the Mediathèque in 2013 as the main crowd puller, the once lively commercial plinth, called 'passage 44', gradually became empty. Today, the underground shopping gallery is only used as an oversized entrance to several conference and meeting rooms and indirectly as a connection to the entrances of the public car park behind. The name 'Passage 44' is still known to a large public, but increasingly as a reminder of times gone by.
With the arrival of a new university campus - Campus 44 - the building's plinth will once again fulfil its original role as a lively place for meeting and development. The programme of a contemporary education and research environment with auditoria, classrooms, library and learning centre, practice rooms and meeting areas can be perfectly fitted into the flexibility of the existing structure and the layering/diversity of spaces and circulations.
The pedestal volume provides a basis for the spatial development of a dynamic higher education according to the idea of a "Living Campus". The Living Campus aims to create added value by stimulating and facilitating encounters within and between the activity domains present (research, education, learning and life). To this end, the closed plinth of the building will literally and figuratively be broken open towards the street.
The topographical embedding and the corner position in the building block offer incredible advantages in terms of accessibility. The building unites no less than three ground levels: the level of Pachecolaan with the main entrance and the inner garden, the level of Kruidtuin with the former Passage 44, and the level of Ommegangstraat. New passageways and external staircases connect the different levels both inside and outside the building. The previously closed inner gardens, together with their integrated works of art, will be opened to the public.
On Ommegangstraat, the heavy concrete parking structure is stripped to the bone and made ready for its new purpose as a university. A light steel structure will be added to this skeleton to make a 5-storey rise possible. The structure of the plinth (with heavy, round columns) and the lighter structure of the new superstructure (with deeper supporting discs) interlock like a Tartan pattern: a fine interplay of heavier and finer patterns that defines the atmosphere of both the interior spaces and the façade.