La Théorie du balcon

The debate on the presence of high-rise constructions within a city centre is too often cut short by simplistic or even demagogic arguments about the ‘human scale’ of a city. In this case, the city is Brussels. The site is located along the Canal, perhaps the only true urban space left in Brussels. The proposal speculates on the bizarre mixture of the high-rise phobia of Brussels and the unrestrained freedom which vertical developments can engender.

The project addresses two issues:
Mixing housing, offices, services, a cinema and a massive civic infrastructure (a water purification plant) into one powerful conglomerate and urban silhouette;
Upgrading the stacking logic by clustering programmes and adding a new ‘ground level’ at a height of +157 m.

The new panoramic ground level (the deck) enables the city’s population services to be located in one grand space, so that at life’s key moments (birth, marriage, death), citizens are granted a larger than life panorama of their capital. On top of the deck rests a small hotel tower, whose scale is reminiscent of today’s ‘towers’ in Brussels. The straightforward tectonics of it all cause a moment of visual doubt, but also offer an instant of urban beauty.

  • Location

    Brussels, Belgium

  • 51N4E project team

    Johan Anrys, Freek Persyn, Peter Swinnen, Bob De Wispelaere

  • 51N4E involvement

    Design Research

  • Programme

    Housing, Offices, Services, Cinema, water purification plant

  • Image credits