Exclusive spaces – Spaces of exclusion
Tutor: Martine De Maeseneer www.mdma.be
Theoretical component teacher: Dirk Jaspaert
Students: Carmen Briers – Manu Vander Avort – Sellekaerts Pieter

A century ago, Brussels boomed in the era of the industrial age. So it attracted more and more inhabitants and immigrants who came and established themselves in their search for work. One of these major landmarks of that important time was the Belle-Vue factory, famous for its beer, geuze Belle-Vue, and previously known as the ‘De Coster Factory’. Placed aside the canal, on a very important vertex of the pentagon in means of traffic and in that time trading routes, this factory was one of the faces of Brussels.

Under this brewing activity, the form and look of the factory had undergone major transformations. Over time, when this beer making was placed to a different site, the building lost his use and vigor. Notwithstanding, this monument was left untouched but nevertheless kept his status as face of Molenbeek, situated at the backside of the site. This well placed remnant of the industrial age however can and must play a major role in the revitalization of Molenbeek and Brussels. The need for good architectural design and urban integration is essential !

As one of the last vestiges of the industrial history of this area, its visual characteristics are of the biggest importance for the collective memory of the site. The imposing brick mastodon shapes define the quai of the canal, exactly where it is adjoining the city center. The landmark status of the factory must be respected. By taking into account the collective memory of the place in our new design, the goal is to create a new appreciation for the old building complex.
“Urban porosity is a key intention for large hybrid buildings with the aim of pedestrian oriented urban places” (Steven Holl). Designing a public building as an island can’t function as a part in the urban fabric. This is why the masterplan for the area makes use of the soon to be executed Ninoofse Poort park plan by BUUR, but some essential changes are made to create a co-existence between the Ninoofse Poort and Belle-Vue, physical as well as programmatic. More globally seen, a link between Molenbeek and Brussels. If attacking both designs separately, disfunctioning of both would be unavoidable.

Designing Belle-Vue begins with 2 supporting elements: The collective memory and a mixture of program.
The existing memory, the covered courtyard feeling, the brick massiveness of the building and the tetris block-like building shape of the brewery building, is handled by a concept “InsideOut/OutsideIn”. A new spatial experience is created by 3 main interventions. The first is maintaining the enclosed character and identity by keeping the front façade, keeping entrance locations and renewal of the strongest volumes. Second, the middle outside space is turned into a central covered courtyard which links all non-residential programmatic functions. Inside and outside space are at the same time socially controlled. Third is preserving existing facades but vary with its use. By opening up existing and new structures, identity is saved but a different use for them is created.

Programmatically, the site as a catalysator for the neighbourhood requires a healthy mix of users, activity day and night. The public program is enforced with a residential one. City flight in certain layers of the community towards the countryside forms a problem for maintaining a correct mix of city inhabitants. Here the residential can present a possible solution by ameliorating the aspects on which these flight is based. Levels are designed as one big plan, consisting of units and shared space. Passive activities are placed in the units, where the active take place in the shared zone. People live equally separate and communal. Relation between all layers of inhabitants is initiated.
The beer museum attracts yet again different users, where this museum is designed as a walkway that regulates all internal organization. The museum visitors will, on their walk, not only behold the essential elements of the brewing process, also they visually encounter the users of other functions. The experience becomes one of “see and be seen”.

 

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