architectesassoc+ wishes to express its best blessings and extend its thanks to all those that make the ideals we strive for that much more pertinent, decent and doable. The engagements we share with you have consistently guided us, whatever the pitfalls, during an intense 2021. And at the dawn of 2022 we wonder, will it be more of the same?
For example, in our studio much of 2021 was spent wrapping up extensive evaluations of the existing CCN complex sitting atop Belgium’s busiest and best-known multimodal hub, while work shown above on the vast project replacing it was underway led by architectesassoc+, engineers Greisch, Arcadis and TPF. This intense option testing and innumerable simulations have convinced clients Atenor and AG Real Estate, and indeed all parties, that the worn-out ensemble’s flimsy structure, haphazard grid and deep dark me-centered volumes distinctly validate our albeit uncomfortable first intuitions: dismantling + newbuild is future’s best bet here. This is certainly not more of the same, and notably because the debate usually tips towards maintaining existing structures to avoid pollution and waste, like architectesassoc+’s PACHECO project shown below. But in the long haul a sustainable option in this case given the huge people-positive impact a novel reciprocity-based design is capable of offering to generations to come compared to the present 1970’s behemoth.
That said it is nevertheless clear working on the CCN that dismantling not demolition will predominate, fueling the circular routes implemented. What cannot be reused will essentially serve as sublime counter-examples of what we must no longer do, shining the light on what we must do instead this time around: design reversible, flexible, accessible to all, in a nutshell responsible. Obsessively not-me-centered, searching to connect dialogue enrich animate wherever we touch ground: entrances wide and welcoming energizing street space, shops of all sorts level with sidewalks, spilling out onto them, a continuous promenade along animated facades front back left and right, an uninterrupted canopy protecting us from wind and rain. Bus routes simplified, train and metro station accesses unscrambled. A life-filled mix of housing, offices, retail and public amenities connected by and interacting with qualified unbuilt space. Straightforward things designed hand in hand with urban planners Atelier Horizon such as sun-filled plaza’s, benches galore, tree-lined bus stops, or an uninterrupted softly sloping pedestrian mall nonchalantly herding the throngs flowing in from the canal scape beyond towards the new low-lying hub and disencumbered Gare du Nord reigning above it, its elegant light-colored stone façade overlooking a green leafy square where you can simply sit people-watch wait for friends have coffee or read a book before your train is due.
We hope 2022 will bring you as many wonderfully simple things !