The Brussels Government has decided to protect the ING headquarters on rue Marnix by including it on the list of safeguarding Brussels heritage. The proposal came from Pascal Smet, Secretary of State in charge of Urban Planning who believes that after the Royale Belge and C.B.R., more emblematic modern buildings in Brussels such as the ING building must be also protected. Built by Gordon Bunschaft at the end of the 1950s, the headquarters of the BBL, now ING, avenue Marnix is an exceptional building. One of the only realisations by Gordon Bunschaft in Europe.
The Region protects the ING headquarters
It was designed by a prominent architect in the 1960s and while being a modern building, its roots lie in classical architecture. Thanks to the purity of its lines, the beauty of its materials and its streamlined spaces, it is an important example of international style.
Peter Adams, CEO of ING Belgium also shared his satisfaction: “The official protection of Marnix as a monument demonstrates once again that the employees of our bank work in an exceptional building. We are going to start a major renovation of this building with the highest environmental ambitions. We will adapt it to the new needs of our employees with a balance between collaborative work in the office and more individual at home. In addition, the bank’s exceptional art collection will remain accessible to the public. This renovation must perpetuate the iconic character of the building while orienting it towards the future”.
By including it in the list of protected buildings and sites, we do more than only protecting it. We are also paving the way for the renovation that is planned in the coming months. As soon as this sanitary crisis over, we will organise a visit. This way, everyone will be able to discover this extraordinary building.Pascal Smet, Secretary of State in charge of Heritage
The renovation of Marnix aims for the BREEAM Outstanding certification, one of the highest sustainability certificates for buildings and the Well Platinum certification in terms of well-being at work.
The history of the building
The site is that of the former Lambert family mansion (1885), which occupied the corner of Avenue Marnix and Avenue des Arts. Léon Lambert contacted the firm Skidmore Owings et Merill (SOM) and its architect Gordon Brunschaft for the development of the project. Bunschaft engages in a search for cohesion with the classical architecture of the immediate surroundings, wanting to take into account the architectural history of the European city which he wishes to interpret in a personal way. He immediately expressed his willingness to experiment with the different possibilities offered by the combination of precast concrete elements.
He created a monumental facade, both simple and innovative, composed of two superimposed parts: a glazed facade (curtain wall) on which is inscribed a second facade formed of concrete and quartz crosses linked together by stainless steel hinges. The emphasis is on horizontal lines. The crosses are embellished by projection onto their surface with a sparkle of quartz, a very hard stone which is transformed by successive polishing into luminous shards, giving the polished concrete a lively texture similar to marble. The concrete cross structure also has the advantage of protecting the building against solar radiation.
In the early 1970s, Baron Lambert re-contacted SOM with a view to extending the building to the rear. Gordon Bunschaft develops two variants, the first in the shape of an O (a new volume with an interior patio) the other in the shape of an H. In the end, the shape of an asymmetrical H is chosen because of the narrowness of the side streets. and because it offers the possibility of creating an esplanade between the two wings of square plan and closed on three sides, accessible by car via a circular roundabout whose center is planted with trees. The idea of making an exact copy of the original building, for the extension, is perfectly assumed by the firm SOM which considers the extension as the accomplishment of the work begun in the early 1960s by Gordon Bunschaft. The challenge has been met since from the outside you cannot distinguish the difference between the two buildings.
You can find more info about the protection of this building on this link.