INNOVATIVE CONVERSION OF A LANDMARK SITE
In 1989, the Society for the Development of the Brussels Capital Region purchased a large portion of the landmark Arsenal site. Since then, a number of high-end companies have taken up residence in the historic buildings.
In 1999, the building located on the corner of boulevard Louis Schmidt and chaussée de Wavre was refurbished and converted into an upmarket restaurant.
In 2004, AG Real Estate launched a new project with the intention of completing construction on the site. The objectivewas to add (1) a 9,000 m² office building , (2) an ICT business incubation centre sponsored by the VUB (Flemish Free University of Brussels), (3) public landscaped gardens complete with park benches and a decorative fountain, (4) a restaurant housed in the formerboiler room , (5) office spacefor service providers, and (6) three residential buildings, each featuring 32 apartments.
The first stone was laid in October 2005, and four years later, the Arsenal site was fully completed and occupied.
2 OFFICE BUILDINGS
The 9,000 m² building designed by Archi 2000 fits seamlessly into the existing character of the site through architectural style and use of materials, textures and details. Brick and bluestone feature heavily in the facades to honour the original dominant materials. Made up of two basement levels, a ground floor and three levels, the building forms a simple H- shape, its long and narrow office wings connected by a central spine.
The offices are centered around two interior courtyards abundant with garden plantings. With its fully glazed courtyard façades, this configuration invites the maximum amount of natural daylight to flood into the building.
The dramatic, open stairwell and lift landings further heighten the building’s aesthetic power.
The stairwell was designed to foster more frequent communication and collegial interaction among employees, inspiring and connecting people across departments. The central open space is covered by a glass roof, allowing natural light to cascade down throughout the property.
This striking 2,650 m² building exudes an edgy, urban loft atmosphere. The property has been artfully restored to preserve the character and historical integrity of the original structure and site. Brick and bluestone feature prominently in the design, blending in seamlessly with the rest of the site.
The rectangle-shaped building is made up of a garden level and two mezzanine levels which can be further divided into two, three or four separate units. The office space wraps around a central atrium awash with natural light pouring in from the eight glass roofs.
Architecture firms Archi 2000 and Atlante joined forces to design this project.
"The aim of the architects was to highlight the positive, urban, military features that are so characteristic of the site.In terms of urban planning, the site is in the shape of a trapezoid with sober, sparsely adorned buildings clustered around courtyards. Architecturally, the buildings are timeless, with brick and bluestone featuring prominently in the design.”
Philippe Verdussen, Archi 2000
"The project involved converting a landmark site into office space and hundreds of apartments in an area spanning two hectares.The new building layout incorporates public gardens for the tenants as well as neighbouring residents to enjoy, reflecting the former military site’s efforts to coexist peacefully in a suburban, civilian environment. The architecture is simple, functional and reminiscent of the original purpose of the site."
Jean-François Lehembre, Atlante
"The Arsenal property was the ideal opportunity to showcase our talents. Our task was to combine new construction with major renovation on a partially renovated site while also preserving the historic landmark’s architectural legacy.
Staying true to the Arsenal’s military history, we designed a mixed-use development on the derelict two-thirds of the property. It was an interesting mix of office space and residential apartments as well as a restaurant and a business incubator that would house university spin-offs and other innovative scientific research startups. Special attention was paid to landscape design and driveways and to create safe passageways. The Arsenal site was completed in mid-2009, after four years of construction, creating thousands of jobs and approximately one hundred homes in the process. It represents an investment of nearly €75 million for a total surface area of 27,000 m² divided into seven buildings."
Alain De Coster, Chief Development Officer