Archive for the ‘tower’ Category


“New Brussels” Competition

August 4, 2007

New Brussels Towers

Quite some time ago, the real estate group Atenor nv. offered a prize for the competition for a new building complex along the canal in the Brussels North district. I did some research and came across a proposition by Conix Architects, the Antwerp based middle-sized bureau that was in charge for the Atomium renovation. I didn’t find any other participants yet… The project dated from 2005 but is in my opinion only an exercise for the future use of the area.

New Brussels Towers

The twin towers, each having a different height, should serve as a new landmark for the area and such, for the city of Brussels, create a mixed content of industrial and urban beauty. The towers have a mixed use, providing offices and appartments on the higher levels, and shops, restaurants, bars, etc.. on the lower levels. The high building will also simulate a bodily scale, with voids and public spaces on the ground level. An esplanade with pavillions will allow a dynamic connection with a new walking area alongside the canal (which, in my opinion is very likely to be managed within the next decade!) at the Akenkaai.

Till date, there seems to be a problem, though. On the one hand, the “Sint Lucas Archive” tries to protect the historic Delhaize Storehouses, that should be demolished for the towers to arise. On the other hand, the city council, wants to get rid of the warehouses, but don’t seem to get a building permit… The only thing I know, is that the warehouses have valuable door-transoms above the entrance doors and even above the windows, by the Belgian art-nouveau architect Paul Cauchie. I’ll make a photoseries in a while. It might be worth a lot in let’s say 20 years 🙂

Also, acoording to an article in the Brussel’s newspaper “Brussel Deze Week” back in 2006, the old storehouses seem to provoke quite some squabble between Brussels politicians. Let’s wait and see how it will end, because since then, i didn’t hear a lot about the project any more…



Astro Tower Refurbishment

July 14, 2007

Astro Tower Brussels (2011-2013) While doing research on the public area in Brussels City, I found some interesting news – at least it’s new to me. The last few years not more than 9 high-rise buildings were rebuilt or refurbished in town. The last one is the Tower of Finance, due for 2008. But today I discovered plans for the refurbishment of the Astro Tower.

The Astro Tower is situated north west of the city centre, between Botanique and Madou and is actualy owned by the Dutch bank company Fortis. In 2006, a study for the renovation was held by the Belgian architects office Jaspers & Partners. It’s not that I have anything against Jaspers, but it seems to me that ambition is to be found far away here in Brussels when it comes to architecture. Of all refurbishments, Jaspers achieved over 50 percent! Anyway, due to a lack of ambition (as I call it), the refurbisment will commence in 2011 and will be completed in 2013. With its 110m, it will then be the amongst the 10 highest towers on the Brussel’s skyline.

Back in 2000, former Brussels mayor François-Xavier de Donnea prohibited buildings to become taller in the future. The aim was to clear the view from the balcony of the City Hall so that no high-rise would be perceptible. The battle for refurbishment was at stake, but with no real architectural competitions, it became nothing more than an update that would change nothing about this city space, and so it did – or did not, depends the nuance.

But some weeks – may it be months – ago the question of new high-rise buildings in the European District here in Brussels was quoted once more. I’ll bring that up within a few days (weeks).

Below a photo before and (likely) after :

Astro Tower, Brussels (2011-2013)


bssl: rogier square / rogierplein

May 27, 2007

Rogier Square by XDG Architects

Well, let me tell you a little more on the past, the present and the future of the Rogier Square in the centre of Brussels. A few years ago, as I mentioned in “image of the week #001” (read more…), the Modernist icon of Brussels, which was the ancient Rogier Tower, was destroyed and replaced by the actual Dexia Tower. As with the most recent manifestation and sports arenas, these new high rise buildings are most oftenly named after their investors. Seems like the Brussels sky becomes dominated by bank and insurance companies, though… Let me remind you of an old postcard photograph taken around 1910. It shows the Rogier Square with the North Station, a gigantesque Haussmann style building. Later on, in 1952, the Belgian rail company

North Station, Brussels, anno 1910. North Station, before the great works in 1952.

created a link between the two stations Brussels North and Brussels Midi, under the identity of a tunnel cutting the city of brussels in two parts. The North Station was displaced some 500m up to the north. Therefore, the old station was demolished and a new one rebuilt, the one we still know…

1958, the year of the World Exposition in Brussels, mostly known as the year the Atomium was built in, but it was also the year of completion of the Rogier Tower. Most of you who knew the tower, remeber it as the Martini Tower with its spinning Mercedes logo on the roof top. It was a 21 storey building unioning appartments, shops, offices and a theatre, all in one building. But the Modernist building, designed as a town in town,

Rogier Tower back in the eighties… Rogier Tower during the destruction (anno 2001)

drowned slowly to clear the spot for a monofunctional and ignorant glass office building. The curved balconies, the particular base upon which the quite slim tower was posed… they were demolished stone by stone back in 2001. A document from 2001 reminds me of the discussion about the protection of the building. But finally the discussion concerned the aesthetics of the to be constructed tower and owner Immobel decided to replace the Modernist icon with an example of how it shouldn’t be. Samyn together with Jaspers

Early computer model, 2002 (Samyn & Partners NV.) Computer model, 2002 (Samyn & Partners)

designed a new office building with a geometrical base grid, based on the city grid of the surrounding streets. The back of the building is said to be conciped with “respect to the outline of the street”, but i did not found any explication on the slope of the glazed roof. The architect describes that there’s to be found a landscape office, and that the “main lines of the plan are parallel to the layout of the North neighbourhood, while acknowledging the other angles in the perspective of the site”… Understood?!

Rogier Square Proposal, 2005, by SeARCH, BAS and BUUR with Jaume Plensa Rogier Square Proposal, 2005, by SeARCH, BAS and BUUR with Jaume Plensa

Together with the process of building a new tower, questions of rebuilding the Rogier Square arose the public opinion. A first attempt was that of Clerbaux & Pinon, a Brussels based project office. They had been asked by the city of St-Joost (the actual town the square is localized in…) to design the new suare. The project was kept secret until the first publication. Brussels minister Pascal Smet replied immediately, together with a immense base of the public opinion, with unbelief and set up a design competition whereout 5 international teams were selected. One in particular was the proposal of SeARCH / BAS / BUUR together with the Spanish artist Jaume Plensa. Their proposal featured a huge transparent man that would be an art object creating a soul to the square and her surroundings. It’s my favourite proposal, because of the potential regarding an artistical experience the project seem to include…

Rogier Square Proposal, 2003, by Clerbaux & Pinon Rogier Square Proposal, 2003, by Clerbaux & Pinon

Finally, the winning company was revealed : XDGA, the research and architecture bureau of the Belgian architect Xavier De Geyter is going to design the new Square. The new project features an enormous glass structure that links different spaces with the square. The glass will reflect the underground of the metro station and the shopping area as well as the surroundings of the square. I’m highly enthousiast and excited to see this project completed at the end of 2009. I have no clue when the building works will start, but it’s my educating task to inform you about that! To be continued…

Rogier Square, Computer model, 2005, by XDGA. Rogier Square, Computer model, 2005, by XDGA.
Rogier Square, Computer model, 2005, by XDGA.

Links + images :


img of the week #001

May 23, 2007


Img#001 - Demolition of the International Rogier Centre, Brussels, 2001-2002.


From now on and on a weekly basis, I will present you images with an architectural importance, with a particular meaning. Images that mean something to me, or images that show something I feel trhe need to share.


The first image is a series of photographs taken between june 2001 and june 2002. It shows the demolition of the Brussels International Rogiercentre, which has nowdays been replaced with a new skyscraper. The building had been built in 1958, the year of the World Exposition, and had become an icon for the city. Influenced by thoughts of Le Corbusier, it was Brussel’s first building of a comparable height that combined living, working and entertainment and therefore was a symbol of the brave urban and architectural Modernity of the fifties and sixties in the heart of the city.The demolition also reinforces the tendency of modern buildings to be replaced instead of to be (re-)appreciated. Going back in time, the Rogiercentre had replaced the old North station in neorenaissance style…


bssl: tower of finance

May 20, 2007

Brussels, Tower of Finance, May 2007.Nowdays, Brussels City is being refurbished all over its territory. Former mayor of the capital, François-Xavier De donnea, decided in 2003 to top all high-rise buildings that were once Modern icons in the capital of Europe. Brussels had created its own voluntary Ground Zero. One of the last of these icons is the Tower of Finance, which has been treated with a fresh suit and a nice haircut, but it looked a lot like Bagdad last week. The remainings of the gigantesque concrete elevator tower that once stood in front of the out-dated glass giant is now reduced to a hillock of dust, concrete and steel.