Project DescriptionFROM THE ARCHITECTS:
Whereas most developing countries can write their future starting from a blank slate, European cities face the challenge of transforming their built heritage to secure their energy, social and economic transition towards post-carbon, circular and interdependent urban living.
Built between 1902 et 1907, Tour & Taxis used to be a large customs clearance and storage complex in the 20th century, located at the river, road and railway gates of Brussels, now Europe's capital city.
Covering 40 hectares (c. 100 acres) of former wetlands, this industrial park is a worldwide symbol of industrialization's golden age – its engineering, ironwork, stonework and natural light.
It lost its utility with the progressive lifting of Europe's custom borders, but the Tour & Taxis neighborhood is currently undergoing a major renewal, and is once again on the verge of becoming an important vehicle for the economic and cultural development of Brussels, bringing in a sense of well-being and community.
The warehouses and sheds have been repurposed with corporate sustainability and the knowledge economy in mind, and a dedication to energy saving and the reuse of renewable energies.
The ultimate goal is to create a genuine mixed-use eco-neighborhood where it is pleasant to be, work, live and play; an eco-neighborhood along the Brussels canal, articulated around three axes: revitalization of the built heritage, sustainable communities, and water.
This redevelopment is combined with the creation of a bridge for public, non-motorized and shared transportation that will link the Rue Picard on the south side of the site to the Gare du Nord train station.
The project presented herein focuses on the "metamorphosis" of the Gare Maritime (Marine Terminal) into 50,000 square meters (c. 538,000 square feet) of mixed-use space composed of professional activities (offices, workshops, etc.), retail activites (markets, showrooms, shops, fablabs, etc.) and public amenities. Across from the pediment of the Gare Maritime, the project also includes the eco-design of three residential "vertical forests" totalling 85,000 square meters (c. 915,000 square feet), as well as the creation of a large pond bordered by a natural and biological pool which links the Tour & Taxis park to the Brussels canal.