A place that adds value to its surroundings: the remit here was to revitalise the BNP Paribas Fortis HQ building in terms of urban planning, design and infrastructure – in exactly the place it has stood for the last 200 years. The new building follows the original street plan, now all but obliterated, and makes reference both to the 12m difference in height that separates Brussels’ Ville Haute from the Ville Basse, and the existing building heights in the area. The use of the existing underground space as a seasonal heat store keeps technical plant to a minimum. Landscaped courtyards and an atrium provide the building’s 4,500 users and the public with high-quality space – both indoors and out – for meeting and socialising.
The resulting building replaces two towers, now demolished, but reuses their massive underground tank. The structure is sheathed in an iridescent, green load-bearing facade that tames its imposing stature. The idea of an urban “house” continues in the design of the outdoor spaces which feature new pedestrian areas, a public courtyard and a green roof designed as an extension of the adjacent park. Key figures: 65,000m2 office space, 1000m2 retail, 2200m2 public bodies, 200 parking spaces and some 400 cycle stands.
Strengths: sustainability and corporate culture
The quest for sustainability takes into account aesthetic, social and cultural values as well as the usual structural and energy-related factors. As a result, both Brussels and BNP Paribas Fortis will benefit from a building that improves its surroundings and provides excellent working conditions for staff.
The sheath design is the result of a fabrication process that we control in every detail and the overall effect is achieved by modules produced automatically on CNC wood machines using our data.
One of the challenges we have relished here is the creation of a functional and poetic space in the midst of Brussels bureaucracy. It is a joy to hear people expressing the high expectations they have for the building.