The Former Train Museum

The reconversion of the former Train Museum in 'Track' plays a key role in the transformation of the northern district, promoting a diverse approach and encouraging a relationship with adjacent neighborhoods and the station’s environment. As a cultural incubator and debating space, it centralizes discussions about the city’s evolution, while reflecting these changes in its public agenda.

The museum venue underwent a comprehensive reconfiguration to align with new usage requirements. From a technical point of view, this translated into an infrastructural network layer as a core intervention of the renovation: a technical installation beneath the ceiling, hosting ventilation, electricity, internet data, heating which is conceived to adapt to multiple uses over time.

The materials that define such infrastructure were sourced from existing buildings, defined in this narrative as ‘mines’: buildings in the process of being demolished or renovated became sources for this assemblage. Their value was derived from salvaging items on the brink of being discarded, as the recuperation of technical elements is normally proved impractical or simply not worth financially. These were found in different office buildings in Brussels: the heatings were carved from Espace Beaulieu, in Auderghem, the cable trays from Centre Monnaie, Brussels center, the Ventilation ducts from CCN, Schabreek; The project also involved repurposing a diverse array of furniture - such as kitchens, chairs, tables, light fixtures; and materials—tiles, wood, glass panels, doors. The disassembly and collection of these items were overseen by our team, and collaborations were formed with specialized partners in material re-use, including Batiterre, Cornemat, and Rotor, to name a few.

Such process made it necessary to re-think the standard phases of design and construction, whose precise sequencing could not apply to the project. Design and construction organically merged, resulting in an iterative process where decisions continually evolved based on inventory lists, prototypes, discoveries, and changing availabilities of materials and workforce. The project dynamically adapted to available resources, or adapted available materials to necessities or uses, defining a two fold meaning to re-use and contextualization.

  • Location

    Brussels, Belgium

  • Client


  • Description

    Refurbishment and reconversion of the former Train Museum (North Station) into a hybrid public space

  • Programme

    Third Space

  • Address

    Gare du Nord, Brussels

  • Completion


  • In collaboration with

    Chevalier Masson (Textile designer), Anton Parys (Carpentry works)

  • 51N4E involvement

    Design and Coordination

  • 51N4E project team

    Johan Anrys, Alessandro Cugola, Astrid Venlet, Sébastien Roy, Paul Weck

  • Construction

    Dylans (General Contractor), LV Techniques (Electricity), Climagroup (Ventilation, Heating, Plumbing)

  • Consultant

    MACABO-STABO (Stability, Building Techniques, Acoustic)

  • Construction cost

    €800.000 (excl. VAT)

  • Site surface

    200 m²

  • Photography

    Sepideh Farvardin, Philippe Braquenier