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Green Geodes intermediary naves © Vincent Callebaut Architectures
Green Geodes intermediary naves © Vincent Callebaut Architectures
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Century-Old Warehouses at Tour & Taxis May Get an Ultra-Green Makeover

Picture of Amber C. Snider
Home & Design Editor
Updated: 12 July 2017
In a grand design, Vincent Callebaut Architectures has envisioned a new eco-friendly, mixed-use neighborhood for Tour & Taxis in Brussels, Belgium. The proposed project includes a “metamorphosis” of the Gare Maritime (Marine Terminal), including offices and retail markets, three residential “vertical forests” totaling 85,000 square meters, and a non-motorized pedestrian bridge.

Lilypad from the Sky Forest © Vincent Callebaut

Lilypad from the Sky Forest © Vincent Callebaut

The revamp of the century-old warehouses at Belgium’s former industrial site along the Brussels Canal will be articulated around three axes: “revitalization of the built heritage, sustainable communities, and water.” Built in the early years of the 20th century, the formerly industrial historical site is one of the largest in Europe.

View from the footbridge © Vincent Callebaut

View from the footbridge © Vincent Callebaut Architectures

“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,” says Vincent Callebaut Architectures.

Boat hulls, axometric view © Vincent Callebaut

Boat hulls, axometric view © Vincent Callebaut Architectures

“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,” says Vincent Callebaut. “Today’s architecture is capable of implementing ‘energy solidarity’ between a piece of architectural heritage – industrial in this case – and a contemporary project.”

The eco-friendly neighborhood will also include the “creation of a large pond bordered by a natural and biological pool which links the Tour & Taxis park to the Brussels Canal…our concept proposes a genuine BIOCAMPUS (eco-campus) where it feels good to work and relax.” Materials for the project will be biosourced and include solid wood and cross-laminated timber to reduce the carbon footprint.

Aerial view of the energy-plus master plan © Vincent Callebaut Architectures

Aerial view of the energy-plus master plan © Vincent Callebaut Architectures

“The spatial organization of the biocampus promotes innovation, interdisciplinarity, and  transversality – all aimed towards co-working and the circular economy of this early 21st century, based on the ‘Triple R’ theory: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” says Vincent Callebaut Architectures.

Meeting room in the incubator © Vincent Callebaut Architectures

Meeting room in the incubator © Vincent Callebaut Architectures

“Metamorphosis doesn’t mean eradicating the past, but rather integrating the best of the past into our future. Metamorphosis means privileging writing a story over another. Metamorphosis means selecting which components of the past will form the foundations of a future still to be imagined. The role of architects extends beyond mere conservation or restoration: it involves advocating for a hybrid history,” Callebaut says.

While it’s an ambitious plan overall, the biocampus proposal for Tour & Taxis is yet another step in the direction of eco-conscious design for the future.