Procedure Architecture competition
Client Arlon 53 AV (BPI & AG Real Estate)
Surface 25.000 m2
The former SECO building is the landmark for Brussels’ vibrant European quarter. The brutalist building is renovated into an open and vibrant structure with green spaces, both inside and outside.
The existing shell is literally taken as a starting point. As an inviting gesture, a new plinth will be created where the central reception area, a co-working café and meeting rooms will be embedded in the greenery. Its unique urban figure will be restored and enhanced by the activation of this plinth. Secondary entrances open up possibilities to rent spaces for educational purposes after working hour, bringing a 24/7 character to the building. To enhance the liveliness of the neighbourhood, a two-story extension in CLT will be added for residential use. The CLT structure for this extension also remains visible in the interior. From beton brut to bois brut. The roof is crowned with a large canopy giving the public access to a splendid view of Brussels.
Seasonal thermal energy storage and urban farming in the basement floor form an answer to the city’s ambition in reducing car traffic. Two of the five basement floors will be reactivated for this purpose.
The specific character of the brutalist architecture is appreciated and guides the limited interventions. The new precast façade on the side elevations interacts with the existing sculptural façade elements. The contrast between the roughness of the concrete and the new wooden construction with the dense vegetation of the ‘tiny forest’ lead to an intense, characterful urban space. The plants stimulate biodiversity: the forest consists of many different types of trees, which attract insects and birds.