OMA has revealed its plans to renovate and extend three vacant railway buildings in Brussels South (Midi/Zuid) station, in order to create an SNCB Headquarters – the offices of Belgium train operator. OMA and Jaspers-Eyers’ proposal was the winning design in a competition that was organised by SNCB.
Three monumental buildings along the Fonsny Avenue have stood vacant for the past two decades. Our blog already reported about the bad reputation of the area and the urgent need to revitalise the empty buildings and its surroundings.
In the past, the Tri Postal sorting house and the two office buildings by which it is connected were once part of the Brussels Midi/Zuid station, at a time when the postal service was more intimately linked with the rail network. The buildings were designed on the occasion of the 1958 World’s Fair.
OMA website notes the words of Reinier de Graaf:
“Contemporary Brussels is both historic and modern, national and European, regional and cosmopolitan. That is its essence – in the mediation between presumed opposites. It is this reality that our project intends to express. It is borne out of the creative tension between an expectation for the future, and a respect for futures past. It embraces the Belgian Brussels, with its early, and often courageous expressions of modern architecture, and the European Brussels, for which the European railway and the Brussels-South stand as symbols.”
The proposed solution will include the old and the new buildings in up to 75,000 m2. The old post office will be transformed into The Mid-Office, including the conference and training rooms, a 200-seat auditorium, restaurant and the fitness centre. The two former office buildings will be transformed into The Back-Office, which will be filled with SNCB’s private workspaces. Interestingly, the plan envisages the rooftop gardens on top of all three buildings.
Also, one of the important aspects of the project is to improve the street’s appeal, which is why several retail spaces and entrances are planned on the ground level. This is also the vision of the municipality which has plans to improve and revitalise the area.
Info source & photos from OMA website.