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.