News

CCN: DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY

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 !

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PACHECO: TENDER DOCUMENTS READY, PERMITS DUE

With three unfruitful demolition-newbuild drafts consummated, the fourth draft _ heavy refurb of the maintained existing building _ has finally been approved by City Authorities and public alike, proving to be both the most complex and the most rewarding of options. Indeed, close collaborations with invested client Befimmo, Brussels’ Heritage experts, engineers Arcadis and Ney&partners/WOW have brought to light a vast panoply of generous urban opportunities, along with both sustainable and marketable solutions compatible with conservation priorities. Accent is on mixed use (offices, retail, HORECA and co-living), specifically targeting animating connections with surroundings. This means purposely developing lively touchdowns sidewalk level on the whole of the block’s perimeter. Thus along the eastern facade shops, HORECA, office and co-living entrances interact with the bustling boulevard Pacheco. West along the Rue du Meiboom the bicycle hub entrance generates a strong flow of ins and outs, next to shops and HORECA stretching all the way down to the foot of the Rue des Sables stairs. At this strategic corner another co-living entrance is implemented, as is a large shared living room for residents overlooking the streetscape. Positioning 24/7 occupation here on the corner and upwards on the entire length of the South-facing façade leading back to the Boulevard has been a priority in all four drafts, thereby intensifying the relationship between inside and out, and the visual-social control that goes with it. Inside, timber prevails with a vast federating atrium around which open and partitioned offices are organized, topped with a glass roof flooding all floors with generous daylight.  Extra attention is paid to qualified dialogue  with the strong 1970’s architecture characterizing the existing volume, to circular aspects, re-use and material choice, and as is already customary in Brussels, to energy efficiency.  Public access to the rooftop restaurant and terraces confirms the project’s intention to celebrate its connection with the urbanscape surrounding it, sharing the exceptional view with the city it serves. Hence the present self-centered volume will, as early as spring 2022, be the setting of a long-awaited transformation _ from introverted bleakness to extroverted reciprocity. 

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UNICITY: PERMITS DELIVERED

Permits for architectesassoc’s UNICITY project in the city of Luxembourg for clients IKO Real Estate and THOMAS&PIRON LUX have been delivered by local Authorities. Discussions with the latter have been long, intense, challenging but more than worthwhile, resulting in an atuned mix of housing, retail and offices geared for regeneration in a neighborhood full of potential, and already booming. A public open-air plaza is purposely positioned on the street corner for maximum visibility coming from the train station nearby. Shops, a restaurant and café animate the ground floors. Housing completes the existing street alignments, large terraces along its facades at pedestrian level, and carved out of its singular volume roof-top. A covered court greets occupants and visitors entering the office ensemble, federating workspace organized around it. In effect, these two commons, one outdoors and one indoors, are projected as lively federating easy-to-feel-comfortable-in unbuilt space nourishing built space. In turn the latter and notably material choice defining it is nourished by the ambiance to be established: light-colored softly glowing glazed brick generates a cheerful atmosphere for housing and retail, iridescent aluminium cladding with automated mesh louvers pivoting as the sun progresses bestow a dynamic enterprising image upon the staggered offices overlooking the surrounding Hollerich neighborhood. Sustainability and heritage issues equally impact design, resulting in modular, flexible layouts for all functions, energy efficiency, lightweight timber panels hovering above listed 1930’s brick façades, terracotta elements for housing and locally resourced stone for the plaza.  Work on site will start by the end of 2021, due finished in 2024.Go to: https://unicity-luxembourg.lu

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