SAQ | Belair
The RAC site, the former National Administrative Centre looking over downtown Brussels has been left vacant since 2003. For this Modernistic complex from the 50’s situated in the heart of the city, SAQ is asked to develop a master plan that restores the site’s identity and in so doing regains a significant role in Brussels.
Apart from developing an organizational scenario for the new program, the key position and scale of the site demand determined gestures to address the different problems concerning the accessibility and the appeal of the public plazas on the site.
By an important multifunctional program, the reactivation of existing buildings, plazas and a composition of newly built volumes, the SAQ proposal is a total concept that has the ambition to anchor the complex back in the surrounding urban tissue.
Through a series of strategic and generous cuts accompanied by public facilities, the long-lost urban continuity of the site is restored. Access to the site becomes part of an urban promenade, a passage of activities.
The insertion of new volumes and program does not wish to negate the patrimonial value of the existing Modernistic buildings; it wishes to derive from it.
The scenario reveals itself gradually on the glazed facades of the renovated office buildings. A cinematographic façade materialized by an evolving difference in color, reflection-value and relief-surface constitue the new panoramic canvas. The visitor experiences the façade as a living organism, always different in aspect according to the point of view. Further on, the scenario takes form by generating –first from the renovated buildings then individually- an intelligent shifting of volumes and slabs. Three individual towers emerge, the one more dramatic in form than the other. These new towers house an important residential program ranging from student-studios to luxurious penthouse-units offering stunning views over the city and bathing in daylight.
In between the new volumes three plazas are conceived or restored. Each with their own individual spatial values. According to their orientation, landscape characteristics, physical and functional relationships, these plazas respond to the differing needs of gathering and circulating public.
The esplanade plaza, as a landmark of the city, is strengthened by an urban installation composed of vertical sculptures. The sculptures, differing in height, fragmentize by their composition the immensity of the scale and create as such view frames upon the city skyline. The visual animation that this new layer generates after sunset guarantee a secure use of the plaza by night.Location: Brussels, Belgium Architect: SAQ
Status: Ongoing 2008 -
Surface: 155 000 m2
Client: Breevast / Immobel