Client: RAC Investment Corp NV
Site: 4.1 ha
Program: 235,000 m2 mixed-use development: major office development with housing, hotel, cultural and institutional buildings
The purchase of the Rijksadministratief Centrum (RAC) by the RAC Investment Corporation has triggered the opportunity to investigate new uses for this now out of date modernist admintration complex. In order to maximise the potentials of the very central site, an invited competition was organised to intensify the RAC complex with mixed programmatic composition of offices, living, leisure, culture and commerce.
The question is how does one undertake such a large scale operation whilst still making it a signature ‘Brussels Project’. The city of Brussels is an urban enigma. It is faced with both the extraordinary task to be the capital of Europe and at the same time having to work within a chaotic city structure. The reconstruction of the RAC is at the centre of this debate on how Brussels moves on with its image as an international, cosmopolitan 21st century city.
The site occupies an important strategic ‘no man’s land’ between Brussels’ Upper Town and Lower Town, historically the division between the rich and the poor. This project attempts to bridge this gap and to relocate the site within the city and beyond. At the scale of Brussels, the project brings in cultural programs that reinforce both national and European level of the city.
At the scale of the site the project fulfills a primary role of maximising connections between Upper and Lower Town. The plinth is organised for a mosaic of 24 hour based programs and parking. Above, a collection of ‘urban blocks’ create a new urbanity for the site in combination with distinct and protected gardens that define the open spaces.