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THE FRACTURED MONOLITH, HOTEL****
Brussels 2004
Belgium

ASSOCIATED PARTNERS : MDW sprl, Brussels
CREATIVE TEAM : Xavier De Wil, Marie Moignot, Fabian Dhaussy from MDW and Vincent Callebaut
PROGRAM : Hotel **** of 300 bedrooms and Congress Centre
LOCATION : Belliard Street of Brussels
SURFACE AREA : 17 000 M²
CLIENT : Robelco
COST : 25 Millions € HT
PERSPECTIVES : Philippe Steels
AN URBAN INTEGRATION OF FLOWS

Inside the urban network Léopold-Schuman, the European Institutions are built up as shut-in masses without any real connection between each other. In order to put dynamism into the area at a pedestrian level, our proposal tries to re-establish fluid and natural contacts inside the block Comines Froissart.This one constitutes a real urban “joint” between the two European poles, that is the Parliament and the Berlaymont, and between the two green lungs, i.e. Leopold Park and the Cinquentenaire Park.
The C.F. block splits itself in order to establish new short cuts and gives the neighbourhood a scale of an urban crossways appropriate to the setting up of the housing with the open centre in the heart of the block. Our master plan takes up urban building lines in order to create an harmony of built masses by recentering the Place Jean Ney. The centre of the parcel Robelco becomes an open atrium on the place and Street Belliard. In that way it connects the green spaces. Indeed this atrium, which is supported by the structure of the tunnel, becomes a topologic connection between the garden of the block and the Leopold Park in the one hand and in the other hand between the building’s two main parts.
These two main parts have an altimetric difference. The part along the Nouvelle Street espouses the base of Juste Lipse whereas the tower centres Belliard Street and is locatedin the skyline of high buildings higher up. Within the Valley of Maelbeek, the hotel asserts its vertical presence and the mouth of Belliard Tunnel which gives on to the Cinquentenaire Park.It is thus an architecture of contrasts between the Cartesian and organic thing, between outside and inside, between private and public spaces of the hotel. It is a project open to the city !


A FAULT ARTICULATING THE SPACES OF THE HOTEL

All welcoming places, restaurants, lecture rooms and relaxation spaces are located around a fault on the roof of the hotel. This space of transition and distribution is an open atrium. On the ground floor, the reception is located in the topography of the site punctuated by substructures (tunnel, diversion of Maelbeek, storm basin)
In the periphery, it looks if we were on the prow of a boat converted into terraces and shops. From the central clearing, escalators lead us to the restaurant, the bar and the lounge rooms. The fluid and dynamic nature of the slabs offers the visitor the occasion to share the sequences of exterior movements in the Belliard Street and on the Place. From there, the view is magnificent and we gaze down at the Pond of the Leopold Park.
This floor with restaurants is directly connected with the lecture rooms located two floors upstairs. In the heart of this architectural mass, which connects the main two parts of the building, there is a swimming pool whose perforated apron creates a subaquatic atmosphere in the atrium through several light accelerators. The visitor swims in suspension between the garden of the island heart and the Leopold Park but he also hangs in mid-air.
This swimming pool is hermetically separated from the rest of the atrium but we can see it from the fitness centre locatedunder the glass roof. This space for relaxation and sport is located along the suspended footbridges. It multiplies thus the oblique views through the whole space. The whole atrium is surrounded by two cores of ducts and vertical circulation. These ones act as an interface and a lock room between the public spaces of the hotel and the bedrooms.


PROGRESSIVELY COSY BEDROOMS

The treatment of the façades along the aligned buildings offers a double interpretation of the hotel whether it’s light or dark. This latter has thus a schizophrenic personality.Indeed the glass skin is plated by a perforated copper filter, which reinforces the monolithic nature of the day. On the other hand, during the night, the mass gives way to the diaphanous nature of this metal tracery, which shows the alcoves of the bedrooms with different light intensities. We go from a homogeneous interpretation during of the day to a random interpretation at night. This interpretation is criss-crossed by light pixels. Moreover this magic of tracery increases because of a progressive perforation of the copper sheeting at different levels.
The density of the perforation gets higher as we go upstairs. The bedrooms that look out on to the Place and major roads keep their intimacy thanks to this principle whereas the bedrooms looking out on to the urban skyline and the Leopold Park have a filter that centres the landscape of Brussels.


It is an ambitious project with a strong identity that wants to be an organic joint between the green spaces of the area. It transcribes the substructures of the basement and takes part in the urban life of flows and personal stories.

COPYRIGHT : VINCENT CALLEBAUT ARCHITECTURES