City Docks


Construction of 93 flats, SIE (semi-industrial workshops), and retail boulevard...

Boulevard Industriel 1070 Brussels
Atenor (Immobilière de la petite île)
Structural engineering
Services engineer
20 608 m² above ground level and 3 512 m² below ground level

Complete description

The project shown here is architectesassoc’s last-ditch bid for significant content on a site developed within a financial frame of reference focusing exceedingly more on return than on input. But the challenge is stimulating and the site baffling, lost in the middle of nowhere alongside this western stretch of Brussels’ canal zone. CITY DOX is an exercise in mixity, offering not just housing (93 flats) but also ultra-modular workspace floating atop an uninterrupted semi-industrial ground floor. Accordingly density and synergy are critical issues here, leading to attentively assembled volumes conglomerating to form a coherent city block, itself just one of the dozen or so constituting this large-scale soon-to-come neighborhood.

Massing along the main boulevard is slightly set back for acoustic reasons with housing turned towards the quieter and more verdant canal-side. Silhouettes are simple, sometimes askew in order to widen perspectives, preserve intimacy, or get more sunshine in. A highly flexible typical floorplan characterizes workspace, allowing modular use and straightforward sub-divisions. Because of security issues and the superpositions mentioned above, physical connections between functions is challenging, leading to a design pushing connections with surroundings instead. Consequently for example floor-to-ceiling windows and full-width terraces fourish. Indeed, the bucolic poplar-lined canal way off in the yonder is CITY DOX’s best asset : hence the shared views of this peaceful landscape federates all present, whatever the occupation.

Permits were introduced like many in Brussels just before end 2014 in order to dodge the city’s passive performance law (applicable January 2015). CITY DOX not surprisingly offers nothing innovative from an energy-efficiency point of view, and experimentation goes no further than insulated render extensively imposed by the developer (architectesassoc‘s invested team is nonetheless pushing pre-fabricated facade panels).

All this is compelling given Atenor’s 2013 declaration in DIVERCITY : « Comment … libérer l’innovation, la diversité, l’expérimentation et la recherche? Pour relancer l’invention urbaine et architecturale, Atenor Group entend faire de son projet CITY DOX une Cité de l’Archtecture, véritable laboratoire urbain. » Tout ça. Well, at least content got its say on paper.