As part of the Brussels Kleine Ring, Belmont is located at the intersection between the city centre and Brussels North. While its back leans towards the historic centre, its face is directed to the Noordwijk.
This former working-class district fell victim to demolition in the nineteen-sixties. The residential urban fabric was replaced in great haste by the Modernist Manhattan Plan, a monofunctional and exuberant office development. An expression of the arrogant belief in glazed office towers. Moreover, the office development entailed an unprecedented condition of passage and transition, resulting in an enormous amount of traffic.
On the other side of the ring road, the Belmont side, residential and commercial functions remained intact within a more historic and fine-meshed fabric. The harsh spatial transition to the Noordwijk as well as the unsolved traffic situation, however, created inferior areas. In its wake came the presence of sex workers, beggars and homeless people.
Today, however, the district exhibits completely new dynamics. Partly due to the development of the Canal Zone, the presence of Tour & Taxis, and the arrival of KANAL - Centre Pompidou, this district is slowly adopting a new urban character.
The renovated Rogier metro station is another attempt to link the historic city centre to the harsh structure of Brussels North and to encourage much-needed investments. Belmont, situated at the interface of these two urban fabrics, wants to help facilitate this trend en transform this dividing line into a transitional zone.
Belmont replaces three existing properties, of little value and dilapidated, by a single gesture. In the currently densely built-up inner area, space is created by situating a high-quality patio garden at the basement level, which is linked to the public domain by an inviting outdoor staircase, and to the ground level by an indoor staircase.
Belmont responds in a sensitive way to the dehumanised glass architecture on the other side. It counters the anonymity of the Manhattan Plan with a fresh formal idiom of brickwork and prefers to reference the brickwork classicism of the city centre. Terraces and porches come into existence by kinking a section of alternating stone band of boarding concrete outward, while the joinery kinks inward.
The modern flexible floor plan is currently used for student housing, but is ready to be transformed to meet tomorrow's needs. At ground-floor level, a catering facility is as much a shared meeting and working place for transients as it is for the present occupants of the building. The shared space, in turn, is connected with a communal area adjacent to the patio garden one level lower. The public inner garden, the catering facility, the communal area, the communal bicycle storage space, and the internal and external transit areas all encourage spontaneous meetings and constitute the backbone of the design.
Young people are part of the catalyst of change and receive a pioneering role in urban innovation. In a trend of upgrading, architectural quality is shared by the inhabitants.
2018 - ...