OMA win contest for Brussels Rail HQ
New development includes 11-storey block with cliff-like facade
OMA, together with Jaspers-Eyers Architects, has won the design contest for the new headquarters of the National Railway Company of Belgium (SNBC) in Brussels. The competition brief called for new structures to be combined with three existing buildings, originally inaugurated for the 1958 World Fair. When completed, the 75,000 sqm development at Brussels-South Station will bring all SNBC departments under one roof, creating work space for 4,000 employees.
The original buildings belonged to the post office, at a time when the mail service was more fully connected with the rail network. Currently empty, they have mismatched floor heights and conflicting grid patterns, giving a distinct character which OMA sought to use in the proposed addition. The new 11-storey building has a sheer, cliff-like façade broken up with portholes, offering views to the inside and reflecting the organisation’s aim to be open with the public it serves.
The total design is divided into zones – the Back-Office for SNBC staff, the public Front-Office, which includes retail spaces and visible access points, and the Mid-Office with conference rooms, a 200-seat auditorium, a fitness centre and a restaurant. The public areas fulfil an objective of the SNBC to inject new life into the neighbourhood, as well as providing a comfortable environment for employees.
Reinier de Graaf, partner at OMA, saw the combination of old and new buildings on the site as an expression of Brussels’ double nature: "Contemporary Brussels is both historic and modern, national and European, regional and cosmopolitan....It is this reality that our project intends to express...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."
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