The Citroën showroom and workshop form an urban island which dominates the north of the ring road adjacent to the canal in Brussels (BE). The building’s presence has been silent over the last few decades, a latent symbol of a declining automobile industry. Today, the project “Kanal Pompidou” intends to resuscitate its importance and give it back its status of “city in the city”, as it was intended by André Citroën in the 30s. Located north of the city’s pentagon and along the canal in the midst of urban retransformation, the project should act as a catalyst for an intensification of Brussels’ cultural life and an urban center for a changing neighborhood. This ambition requires a specific urban and constructive approach. How can a museum become an open public space while duly fulfilling its main function as a space dedicated to art? How to integrate the magnificent and very precarious existing structure, intensify its splendor and its intrinsic qualities, without compromising its architecture? OFFICE’s proposal, in collaboration with Christ & Gantenbein, answers this by inserting two new pertinent volumes — one a stacked series of galleries, the other a silo as a container of the archives and library — in the existing complex. The halls – the former workshop –are freed from technical and practical burdens that would have been imposed upon them if they had accommodated the museum. This radical intervention transforms the complex to an urban ensemble composed of different volumes with clear typological characteristics, and the surrounding halls as their common matrix. The halls are stripped of the additional constructions which have been added during the lifetime of the building, and returned to their original, ultra-light state. A minimal upgrade of its envelope creates a tempered outside climate. The addition of various trees and urban furniture makes for a public space that holds the middle between a market hall and a greenhouse. A mezzanine level provides an overview, organizes access to the various functions, and allows for smaller, boxed functions to be installed under its surface.
Competition, 2nd place. In collaboration with Christ & Gantenbein, Richard Venlet, Jan De Moffarts Architecten, Bureau Bas Smets, Bollinger + Grohmann Ingenieure, Arup, muller van severen, Kritis & Kritis, eld.