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(19-20) Real estate architecture

Studio real estate architecture

Academic year 2019-20
Tutor: Gideon Boie
Engagement: The Brussels Way

Welcome in Jaspers Town

The largely abandoned WTC office towers in the Noordwijk are a grim reminder of the exaggerated aspirations of modernist architecture, undoing the 19th Century city with the promise of the new. Since the last one and a half years of temporary occupation, the same WTC towers holds the promise of an even newer future, this time of a lively business district with mixed functions and architectural quality.

In this studio we will dive into the Noordwijk’s past and future, bringing together innocent dreams, exaggerated ambitions, opportunist politics, conspiracy theories, personal memories, and renewed hopes that are present it this area. The re-design and re-use of the WTC complex is the perfect anchor point to start a debate on the architecture of corporate real estate in Brussels and tie up some of the loose ends in the past.

The design research will be developed in direct dialogue with today’s actors involved in the re-use of the WTC, i.e. architect team 51N4E + Jaspers Eyers + l’AUC, Brussels Government Architect (BMA), real estate operator Befimmo, non-profit Up4North/LabNorth, Flemish Government Facility Service, architects responsible for urban mining ROTOR/Drees & Sommer, temporary occupants IABR/You are Here, WTC24, Overtoon and others.

The scope will be expanded by digging into the different archives of the destructive history of the Noordwijk. We will start with scanning the building dossier of the architect-promotors (André and Jean Polak, Groupe Structures, VDB-Charly De Pauw, …) Also there are archives on the protests by neighborhood committees (collected by Albert Martens) and professional associations (CIVA-Sint Lukasarchief, BRAL, …)

The theoretical framework is the work on corporate architecture and urban activism in Brussels by Sven Sterken (KU Leuven), Isabelle Doucet (Chalmers), Sophie Dars and Carlo Menon (Accattone / ULB). We will also look into relevant discourse on post-war construction of business-districts elsewhere in Europe (e.g. Rem Koolhaas on La Defense, Beatriz Colomina on the modernist tabula rasa.)

The discussion of WTC will be our perfect starting point to reconsider the future adaptive re-use and re-design of corporate real estate all along the North South Axis in Brussels, such as the Muntcentrum, former Actiris (Beursplein), Tri-Postal (Station Brussel-Zuid) and more. Along this axis we will meet many more actors (railway company NMBS not to forget) and learn about their impact on the side.

The studio relates to the Newrope The Design in Dialogue Lab led by Freek Persyn at the ETH Zürich.