Sustainability is a priority in the construction of a new prison in Haren

The prison complex was realized through a DBFM (design, build, finance and maintenance) procedure, a public-private partnership where a private partner is responsible for the design, construction, financing and maintenance of the correctional facility. The construction was carried out by the consortium Cafasso nv, which consists of Denys nv, FCC Construcción sa and Macquarie Group. The work started in autumn 2018 and was completed last month. It was one of the biggest construction sites in Belgium in recent years.

The prison village was realized on a plot of 15 ha and consists of several buildings. The so-called ‘town hall’ is centrally located, which opens onto a large central courtyard. It includes various common functions, such as the reception and visitor complex, the sports hall and the sentencing court. In addition, there is also the entrance building with the council chambers and an administration building outside the perimeter wall. The smaller housing units, each for around 30 people, are innovative. All housing units open onto a central square or garden. The tours (outdoor areas) are practically arranged with a relaxation zone and a green zone.

A borehole energy storage field (beo field) was built with 250 boreholes to a depth of approx. 90 m. This beo field is one of the largest in Belgium. It allows for cooling or heating with free energy from the ground. Cooling is taken from the ground in summer via an underground system of pipes, and the buildings are then cooled. In winter, the stored heat can be extracted to heat the buildings. The Beo field provides significant primary energy savings and is therefore good for both the climate and the energy bill.

Electricity is produced via a cogeneration plant, and part of the hot water for the prison is produced with the residual heat that is released. 140 solar panels were installed on the roof of the so-called town hall. Of the total consumption of non-potable water (flushing toilets, green maintenance, etc.), 59% is recovered through the recovery of rainwater and 41% through the recovery and purification of greywater.

The buildings’ insulation values ​​(89,000 m² facades and 50,000 m² floors) are more effective than the current regulations require. When the original planning application was submitted in 2013, the project achieved an average K-value of K18, while the legislation at the time required a maximum K-value of K40. So the project more than doubled what was prescribed. Now, almost 10 years later, the insulation quality of buildings is no longer expressed in K-values, but we see that the heat transfer coefficients (U-value) for the various building parts are still better than the current regulations. During the environmental construction, water-permeable materials were used as far as possible and maximum seepage into the prison area via wadis was ensured. The prison village has a ‘Breeam Very Good’ certification, an international standard that assesses projects worldwide for their sustainable character. They not only look at a building’s insulation and energy values, but also assess the entire construction process and the use phase.

Particular attention was paid to the acoustics with a focus on avoiding excessive noise. Concretely, it concerns the reduction of noise propagation, knocking and impact noise through the concrete construction and the search for vandal-resistant sound-absorbing finishes, the design of specific areas such as courtrooms and rooms with low stimulation and the more common areas such as classrooms, workshops, living rooms and cells. A further challenge for acoustic comfort was to avoid noise nuisance from aircraft. Brussels-Zaventem National Airport is not far from here.

To combat the current overcrowding in Belgian prisons, three cell wings in the Saint-Gilles prison will remain operational until the end of 2024. The women’s prison in Berkendael is being converted into a detention center for 60 short-term prisoners. The relocation of the arrested takes place in several phases. Around mid-October, the female inmates from Berkendael come over to Haren prison and in mid-November the inmates from Vorst follow.

Technical sheet

Owner: Belgian State

Client: Directorate of Buildings

End User: Federal Public Service Justice

Dbfm Consortium: Consortium Cafasso (Denys nv, FCC Construcción sa and Macquarie Group)

Duration of works: 2018-2022

Posting period: 25 years (after which the federal state takes over the prison)

Construction cost: 382 million euros including VAT (included in the annual fees from the time of deployment)

Annual fee: 40 million euros to pay off the investment (construction costs + financing) and for the complete maintenance of buildings and land for 1,190 people.

Plot of land: 15 ha

Net floor area: approx. 105,000 m²

Perimeter wall: 1.2 km

Green roofs: 22,500 m² (gross area, so including circulation zones)

Landscaped greenery: 37,000 m² and 652 trees

Capacity: 1,190 seats


© The Directorate of Buildings

© The Directorate of Buildings

© The Directorate of Buildings

© The Directorate of Buildings

© The Directorate of Buildings

© Philippe van Beloven

© Philippe van Beloven

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