Studio Muoto and Tab Architects give the Health Campus a new face

The Diepenbeek campus has been changing for a while now. The master plan, which POM Limburg has developed in recent years together with various partners, is increasingly taking shape. In addition to the education campus, with UHasselt, PXL and UCLL the Construction Campus and the Health Campus are the most important building blocks. Deputy director of finance and chairman of POM Limburg Tom Vandeput: “The entrance gate is part of the Health Campus, but is mainly the face of the campus to the outside. It must therefore be a literal reflection of the site’s soaring ambitions, and the winning design absolutely succeeded in that.” In addition to the gatehouse, the distinctive parking building will also be a beacon for the entire campus. “To give the place a cross-border image, we call the campus Limburg DC, where DC stands for Diepenbeek Campus.”

Honor

In recent months, POM Limburg and UHasselt have been looking for an architectural firm together with the Flemish government architect. Out of twenty files, the design by Parisian Studio Muoto and Flemish Tab Architects came out best in the selection procedure. Both agencies can present a good track record. For example, Muoto designed the “Lieu de Vie”, the first building of the new Parisian university campus in Saclay; a task that is very similar to Limburg DC. Frenchman Gilles Delalex and Belgian Yves Moreau’s office see, in their own words, architecture as a beginning, not an end point. Particularly well-known are their minimalist structures, which can develop over time and often combine different activities. ‘Muoto’ is Finnish for ‘shape’. The architects are also heavily involved in education and research. The other office, Tab Architects from Ghent, is a young, promising collective that is involved, among other things, in the large-scale renovation of the Jewish Museum in Brussels. Rotterdam landscape agency OTO is also involved and is responsible for the environmental design.

Campus feeling

Recognizability and identity were key criteria during the selection procedure. Tom Vandeput: “We want to strengthen the campus feeling in Diepenbeek. The winning design radiates a clearly recognisable, new and strong identity. Due to the inviting nature of the cylindrical buildings, visitors are welcomed. In addition, there are numerous meeting places. These meetings stimulate collaboration and cross-fertilization between disciplines, and it is no coincidence that it is at the heart of the campus.” Furthermore, the emphasis was mainly on sustainability. “The new buildings will be a model of sustainability: they will be built in an energy-positive, change-oriented and water-neutral way.”

Innovation center for healthcare

The entire entrance gate consists of an ensemble of two large, round towers. In addition to the efficient gate building, there will be a parking building with around 500 spaces as well as bicycle sheds, small shops and a courtyard. The gatehouse itself houses an open healthcare innovation center and shared facilities for campus residents, including offices, meeting rooms and a restaurant. Health Campus manager Roeland Buckinx: “This gatehouse is an important step in our high ambitions. It will be a beacon location where companies, knowledge institutions and care actors can work together to improve our care, from innovative idea to implementation.”

Hasselt University already plays a central role in the open innovation center for healthcare. Rector of Hasselt University Bernard Vanheusden: “At the gatehouse, we are further expanding our research within our new master’s programs in healthcare. This place offers the opportunity to bring people from very different disciplines together and tackle the challenges of the healthcare sector as effectively as possible. As a citizen university that wants to use its knowledge to make society smarter, more agile and better, we are especially looking forward to the many collaborations with the health sector that will be made possible thanks to this gatehouse.”

Entrepreneur

In the coming period, the design will be further refined together with the agencies. Tom Vandeput: “With this award, we choose an experienced team and a strong concept. In the following months, that concept will be further polished in a design process. At the beginning of next year, we will bring a contractor on board who will work with the architect in a construction team to further optimize the design. Our ambition is to lay the first stone in 2024.”

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