Transparency trumps in a beautiful administrative center

Centralization of city and municipal services in new administrative centers that meet all modern standards, offer more comfort and allow more efficient operation: this is a positive trend in our country. Brussels also worked on a collective stopping point for its civil servants. Where they were previously spread over seven different locations – including the former ‘centre administratif’ on Anspachlaan and the town hall, which will henceforth mainly serve a ceremonial function – they recently moved together in Brucity, a hyper-modern office building with an area. of 37,000 m². .

The new administrative center is located in the beating heart of the Brussels pentagon, between Hallenstraat, Bisschopsstraat, Zwarte Lievevrouwstraat and Kiekenmarkt. The oblong building – 160 meters long and 32 meters wide – replaced Parking 58, which was built in the middle of the last century for Expo 58. Therefore, Brucity has not only nine above-ground floors, but also four underground parking levels that can accommodate 559 cars (including 450 public parking spaces). The ground floor is reserved for an impressive atrium and the city offices, where residents can go to administrative events. The upper floors, designed as long open platforms on either side of the public central core, contain the office, meeting and archive areas of the administrative services, including the councillors’ cabinets. At the very top of the building – on levels 8 and 9 – are the council chambers and a company restaurant with a roof terrace, which are directly accessible via two panoramic lifts.

Strong connection to the city

What is immediately striking is that the shell of Brucity largely consists of glass and that the building has a very open character. A conscious choice by the design team, emphasizes Barbara Wolff, architectural partner at B2Ai architects. “Spaciousness, transparency and coherence are the key words. Curtain walls with rounded corners, awnings and floor-to-ceiling windows provide abundant natural light and increase coherence with the surroundings, while glazed terraces promote communication between administrative staff, resulting in more efficient operations. Because the height of the building is relatively limited, the officials present also have the feeling that they are in the middle of the city.”

In short: Brucity is not a high-rise that towers supreme over its surroundings, nor is it a closed structure that escapes the busy city life. On the contrary: the new administrative center is seamlessly embedded in the urban fabric of Brussels. “We find this interaction with city life very important. Therefore, the atrium is designed as a transparent ‘inner space’, including a public corridor that is only closed at night. The well-known crown of the work is the public roof terrace. Just like on the roof of Parking 58 in the past, residents of Brussels can enjoy a great view while also picking up the ‘vibrations’ of the surrounding city.”

Architectural symbiosis

It took a while to arrive at the new administrative center in the city of Brussels, but Brucity is finally ready eleven years after the start of the project. “We have supported the client from the very beginning (read: since 2011),” explains Barbara Wolff. “First of all, we carried out a feasibility study and organized a design competition, which was won by Bruno Albert architecte & associés. Afterwards, we contributed to the further development of the design and acted as executive architect in the later project phases. Pierre Lallemand, on the other hand, has designed the facade, and a couple of interior designers have also been brought in to take on the interior design. So the design team has grown as the project has progressed.”

Over the years, some design and implementation changes have been made in accordance with the changing spirit of the times. “For example, ‘en cours de route’ we have chosen a more transparent facade that better meets contemporary needs, all tropical wood has been replaced by local varieties and we have finally ensured the use of rhyothermy (read: heat recovery from waste water) “, says Barbara Wolff. “The latter is part of the general focus on sustainability, which resulted in a BREEAM Very Good certificate. The PV panels, high-performance climate ceilings, LED lighting and the ventilation system D with heat recovery also contribute to this. Together with all other parties involved, we are very proud of this striking achievement!”

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