“In Brussels, urban development also means keeping production in the city center,” explained Kristiaan Borret, City Architect of the Belgian capital. Instead of moving existing facilities to the outskirts, they are integrated into the developing neighborhoods. Two projects of the Brussels Canal District masterplan received international recognition in 2017 by winning the 5th LafargeHolcim Awards in Europe.
More than 130 guests from architecture, urban planning and politics experienced how sustainable construction is applied in the Brussels Canal District, hosted by Holcim Belgium. Kristiaan Borret, City Architect (Bouwmeester), opened the event by advocating the central district must remain attractive for both “thinkers and makers”. It makes perfect sense to retain industry as part of the mixed-used development of the precinct, especially when taking into account the existing industrial infrastructure and the logistics advantages of the canal. The city masterplan tackles demographic, economic, social, environmental and territorial challenges for the urban (re-)development of the central district of Brussels. And to keep up with the changing needs of Brussels, its inhabitants and the environment, “masterplans need to be constantly adapted” Kristiaan Borret said.
Edward Schwarz, General Manager of the LafargeHolcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction, noted that the independent jury of specialists considered Brussels to be an inspiring example of how to continue developing an urban precinct that is already highly developed. “The jury decided to declare Brussels a hotspot for sustainable development based on brilliant strategies to improve the built environment.” Two construction projects located in the Canal District by TETRA architecten and BC architects & studies were chosen to receive LafargeHolcim Awards Gold Europe 2017 ex aequo.
Creating jobs and public space
TETRA architecten from Brussels had already been acknowledged in a former Awards competition for their project “Construction materials recycling and logistics hub”. Soon to be opened, the flexible modular system of the “construction materials village” in the port of Brussels combines infrastructure with industrial and logistics activities. Annekatrien Verdickt from TETRA also presented their latest prize winning project “Adaptable structure for a garbage management company”, a facility that serves as workplace on the canal front for 500 Bruxelles Propreté employees. Both projects enable the integration of the client’s needs with (green) public spaces, while also setting aside areas for future development.
Staying local and traditional
Ken De Cooman referred to the LafargeHolcim Awards Acknowledgement prize winning “Socially-integrated office building with sustainable façade” project of BC architects & studies located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to illustrate how sustainability can be achieved by integrating traditional building materials and techniques as well as local craftsmanship to realize contemporary solutions. BC architects & studies, based in Brussels, shows that this approach also works in Europe with “Fort V” in Antwerp, a project to renovate and upgrade a warehouse into an educational facility, using compressed earth blocks from the neighborhood as well as natural local materials for insulation. Ken De Cooman stressed that sustainable construction is about respecting local design traditions, identities and materials combined with satisfying modern needs – and bringing together enthusiastic teams.
Claudia Albertini, CEO of Holcim Belgium, and Bart Daneels, Sales & Marketing Director, congratulated the winners on their projects and emphasized that the LafargeHolcim Group is engaged in sustainable development on all continents and with products and services to meet highest expectations also with regard to sustainability.