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Mons - Congress Centre (Daniel Libeskind)

The team of Studio Daniel Libeskind, H2A architects, Ney & Partners and the contractor CIT Blaton, win the design and build competition for a new Congress Centre in Mons (B).

With this selection out of eight competitor designs, Studio Daniel Libeskind will realise their first building in Belgium. This project, combined with the new high-speed train station designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, will constitute the starting point for the redevelopment of over 500.000 m² of land formerly belonging to the Belgian Railways. The new urban zone will be an extension to the city of Mons, which will be the European Capital of Culture in 2015.

Daniel Libeskind (born 1946) is an American architect with Polish origins. He became famous for his utopian designs on paper, which stimulated architectural discourse due to their symbolic and philosophical inspirations. It is only since early 2000 that his complex designs started to be constructed. The Jewish Museum in Berlin (1989-2011) was a turning point is his career and is considered one of the most important cultural landmarks recently built. He is also the architect in charge of the master plan of the World Trade Center in New York.
Located between the historic center and the Great Meadows area, the future Convention Center is a lever leading to the urban development of Mons and includes 3 theaters with seating up to 800. By creating a visual link with the Belfry, the building is fully integrated into the network of public and cultural center. Visible from the center, it is a landmark for the development of the City of Mons.

For the facades, open cladding is used giving the building a light and textured appearance. The lower walls are clad with vertical slats of unfinished robinia wood responding to the adjacent natural park. The upper ribbon walls are clad with vertical bands of anodized aluminum following the curve of the wall. Apart from the glazed corner, few openings are visible in the ribbon walls. In front of windows the slats are rotated allowing for daylight and views while maintaining the integrity of the form. The surfaces around the building are polished earth colored concrete, in which bands of Belgium blue stone are inserted. The bands form an irregular pattern that is continued into the building.

The project is currently under construction.









www.ney.be

daniel-libeskind.com/projects/centre-de-congres-mons
 

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Charleroi - POLICE HEADQUARTERS & EXTENSION OF CHARLEROI/DANSES (Jean Nouvel + MDW)

Beside preserving two remarkable wings of an existing cavalry building and adapting them according to low energy standards, this sustainable project includes a third vertical “wing”: a 75-meter new elliptical passive tower clad in blue bricks that accommodates very flexible police offices and facilities. Charleroi/Danses’ extension houses dance studios and residences for artists, located in small brick buildings that help preserving a human scale. A tent on the roof houses the new foyer-belvedere. All the elements of the complex are connected by a large public square directly accessible from the street and a public café invites life to enter the plaza. The unusual ensemble creates a green landmark for the city of Charleroi.












http://www.wbarchitectures.be/en/architects/MDW_ARCHITECTURE/Hotel_de_Police___Extension_de_Charleroi_Danses_-_Charleroi/456/

http://cluster010.ovh.net/~mdwarchi/index.php?/projet/office---hotel-de-police-charleroi/
 

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Ghent, City Library
architect: Aranda-Pigem-Vilalta (Girona) ism. Coussée & Goris (Gent)



About this project: archaeological examination of the site has been finished and the project is now the very earliest stage of construction:




Since about a year or so, the site is a huge gap in the tissue of the city center, opening up a nice perspective on the Cathedral and Belfry of the river Scheldt. One may notice that part of the quay has collapsed, but according to a knowledgeable visitor of the Belgian forum, this has very little effect on the construction process. The location of the site on the riverbank is invaluable: most of the transportation of excavated earth from and construction materials to the site, will be done by boat.




So what's happening on the construction site: men and machines have been cutting out a slice of ground to fill it up with cement and steel beams. When that stuff has hardened, excavation will start.




Yay, powertools.




There's more to this project than just the new library. This huge brick and concrete monsterbeast is the former winter circus. It has been used as a garage for a couple of years after the war, but it's been withering away for decades now.

A design competition to revitalize this peculiar building finished in december, and a Dutch firm (Atelier Kempe-Thill) was named the winner. Their concept involves a couple of projection screens, office space, some retail units and a concert hall underneath the main hall. A few images to illustrate the concept:



Doorsnede Wintercircus © Atelier Kempe Thill by AG Stadsontwikkelingsbedrijf Gent, on Flickr


Simulatiebeeld binnenplein Wintercircus Gent © Atelier Kempe Thill by AG Stadsontwikkelingsbedrijf Gent, on Flickr


Simulatiebeeld binnenplein Wintercircus Gent © Atelier Kempe Thill by AG Stadsontwikkelingsbedrijf Gent, on Flickr​
 

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^^ I love the look on the inside. The only thing I thinks looks out of place are the rather massive concrete beams in each corner. Still overall like it though.
 

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Criticism has died out pretty fast. It's been there for about a year now, and it's part of a larger infrastructure. It's pretty much the heart of the city that's been redesigned, and it's still an ongoing project. The hall started as a return to a previous state of open space. There used to be several building blocks between the Belfry, City Hall and Saint-Nicholas' Church. The last block was demolished in the sixties. Since then, 3 former squares became one, vast, rather disfunctional open space, which was used... as a parking lot. For decades. By creating a park at a lower level where one of the former squares was, and by building the hall between the other 2, the old division between these smaller spaces is somehow restored, reducing the grain of the city center back to the way it was, without literally turning back time.

The hall is intended as an unprogrammed space. It is supposed to entice the inhabitants and visitors of the city to come together, do things, organize... So far that's been working pretty well - small public events take place here regularly and its use is still growing.

There are two very good photo series on ArchDaily, about the hall specifically, and they show some of the area around it too:

 

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Also in Ghent, the Council of the Province of East-Flanders has declared all protest against these twin residential towers unfounded. Construction will start this autumn, at less than a stone's throw from the city main railway station, Gent-Sint-Pieters:




(Click for a bigger view)

The station and a part of its former railyard are undergoing a vast transformation generally. Next to the aforementioned twin towers, Dutch bank ING will build its regional HQ. A design by Asymptote Architecture (cf. Yaz Hotel, Abu Dhabi):


 

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In Mons, a relatively small but lively university town, set to be European Capital of Culture in 2015, little more is left of the old railway station than rubble:



Work in progress


It had to make way for a new station, designed by Calatrava, who also designed the new http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9c/Pano_Liege_guillemins_5juin.jpg. The new station will look like this:




During the demolition of the old station, remnants of a tower of the old city ramparts were uncovered. It dates back to the late 13th century, but its existence was unknown. The discovery is recent, but it has been decided that these old foundations have to go, in order not to delay the construction of the station. Walloon government and Eurostation (the company branch of the national railway company that builds the station) have however declared that they will look for a way to reintegrate them into the station, somehow.


 

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Other than the police headquarters traffic cone, those are some great projects!
 
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