“I confirm that urban.brussels has issued the building permit for the former mail sorting centre. It is the result of a long process with an architectural competition and a lot of consultation. This renovation project will revitalize this site. In terms of town planning, it is completely ready. As requested, the building will be open to the public. The activation of the ground floor makes it possible,’ explains State Secretary for Town Planning Pascal Smet
“SNCB has confirmed that it wants to keep its headquarters in Brussels. It has provided the necessary resources for an ambitious project with an architectural competition. This permission is important for the future of the district, as the station plays a strong historical and symbolic role. The resources for the urban renewal will be massively invested in the neighborhood in the coming years to support and complement this project so that we can offer local residents, the residents of Brussels and visitors to our capital a high-quality environment.” said Prime Minister Rudi Vervoort.
The site is located in and around Brussels South Station. The new head office is located on the Fonsnylaan side in the municipality of Sint-Gillis. In addition to offices, it also offers a training center, conference rooms, control centers, etc.
The design by architects OMA, Jaspers – Eyers Architects and Assar Architects preserves the three existing buildings and adds a sober and contemporary addition to the side of the tracks. This linear building is characterized by a certain ‘horizontality’ and symbolizes the tracks. In total, the new building is 60.5 m high. This represents a difference of only 10 m from the average heights of the buildings in the vicinity. In this way, visual comfort for the neighborhood is ensured. Out of respect for the past, the well-known yellow brick on the outside has been preserved. The interior is being cleaned and renovated, but here, too, old elements are given a new function in the design of the new head office. The integration of the existing buildings is being investigated in consultation with Callebaut Architects.
On the side of the tracks, the building gets colored interior screens in the facade composition. The different colored panels provide a playful element, while visual comfort is guaranteed. The choice of glass, sun- and heat-resistant layers and a limited light reflection of the facade surface contribute to this.
The interior also emphasizes linearity, just like the exterior. The office premises are arranged in such a way that they can be adapted to an alternative use.
This project primarily aims to relocate Brussels-South, the station with the largest rail supply in the country. It is an intermodal hub in Belgium and an important European rail hub.
The design of the rooms and the flow at the entrances are improved so that the traveler can better orient himself and find his way. The main entrance will be much more visible and accessible, and thanks to an additional access via a corridor extended to Avenue Fonsny, travelers will have direct access to the platforms and a smoother flow of traffic will be possible.
The way the station communicates with the neighborhood will also get a makeover: busy, cozy and welcoming spaces on the ground floor will house new shops, services or public facilities. The project includes construction and renovation of underpasses on the Fonsnylaan side.
The project will contribute to the revitalization of Zuidwijk and will ensure a nicer and more vibrant neighborhood where it is good to be at any time of the day. This represents a strategic goal for SNCB: to make its stations as lively and intermodal locations and their surroundings more attractive to its travelers and local residents, thus encouraging them to choose the train.
The district around Brussels-South station is easily accessible by public transport, there is a rich social mix with offices, commercial buildings and residences. “It plays an important role in Brussels as well as nationally and internationally, and deserves a transformation to improve the quality of life for its residents and to improve the image of the main gateway to the capital for travelers,” the statement said. Brussels Region.
“Besides a significant improvement of the immediate station environment, the project will also rebalance the functions of the neighborhood with more public facilities, green spaces and housing. The new building will be a landmark in the Brussels cityscape, highlighting the presence of the station in a sober and contemporary way.”
With this project, all SNCB teams, which are currently spread over 7 locations around the South Station and occupy 140,000 m², will be gathered in one place in a building with a surface of 71,000 m². This will ensure greater cross-cutting and collaboration, which will further improve the service to travelers. The new building will house the essential functions for national rail traffic and will therefore become the nerve center for real-time traffic management and safety in the railway area.
The project is the answer to various challenges for SNCB as a public company. SNCB optimizes the use of its sites (reduction of more than 50%) with a model project in the ecological area (excellent BREEAM score of 83.5% – passive building, zero fossil energy, circularity of materials, exemplary water management, increased biodiversity etc…).
The project also introduces the ‘new way of working’ in a quality environment that allows for a 50% on-site staff presence. Also in the digital area, it is an innovative project that allows for preventive and real-time management of the building and helps to optimize consumption, occupancy and maintenance. This project will also significantly reduce the energy consumption, operating costs and environmental impact of current buildings.
Work will start soon
The security and remediation work has recently started. The actual works will start in the coming months. The new building must be in operation during 2025.