Brussels government approves permit NMBS buildings Fonsnylaan

“The project is of architectural excellence. Tri Postal, has great heritage value and will be preserved and upgraded, regaining its soul. The building is complemented by a modern eye-catcher. A beautiful combination of old and new. And for me it also symbolizes Brussels, where we respects our past, but must also look to the future with an open and ambitious eye. This project must be the starting point for a much-needed metamorphosis of a neighborhood that has been neglected for far too long, the gateway for many people to our city and our country .This district deserves more ambition and pride, and this is a good start”, says Brussels’ Minister of State for Urbanism and Cultural Heritage, Pascal Smet.

In August this year, a building permit was already granted for the project by urban.brussels. However, this was appealed by the municipality of Sint-Gillis. This appeal has now been rejected by the Brussels government and the government finally approves the permit.

The design is by the internationally recognized architectural firm OMA, in collaboration with the Belgian firms Jaspers-Eyers and Assar Architects.

The building at Brussels South Station will thus be the first OMA building in our country. OMA has realized several acclaimed projects outside our borders, such as the ‘Kunsthal’ in Rotterdam, the ‘Casa da Musica’ in Porto, the ‘Seattle Central Library’ in Seattle and the ‘New Court Rothschild Bank’ in London.

The project will be an urban eye-catcher. The three monumental buildings on Fonsnylaan, the former mail sorting center and the two adjacent office buildings, will be preserved and thoroughly renovated. The buildings in typical yellow bricks date from 1957. They were built in a period when the railway and postal service were still closely connected. Today, the buildings have been empty for more than 20 years. Since 2019, part of the building has been used temporarily. The non-profit organization Communa, together with local associations, temporarily breathed life into the building by providing functions such as a dance studio, a reception point for the homeless, a neighborhood cinema and a FabLab.

In the thorough renovation of the existing buildings, the characteristic elements of the outer facade are emphasized even more. Inside the building, several interesting interior elements have also been retained and restored.

Lively and open building

The former post office buildings today form a blank wall of more than 370 meters along Avenue Fonsny. This will change in the future. The ground floor on the street side is activated. In addition to a spacious main entrance, various commercial and catering businesses are also planned to bring life to the district.
In contrast to today, the building will be much better connected to the surrounding public space. The entrances to the station on Avenue Fonsny will be integrated into the project. The entrances get much more light and become more open to the city. This will increase Syd Station’s visibility and attractiveness.

New linear volume

A new linear volume of 239 by 19 meters will be built on top of the upgraded building parallel to the train tracks and platforms. The building is characterized by large round windows.
This new volume is located on the side of the tracks, set back from the street. The visual impact of this volume from street level will therefore be limited.
This also frees up space on the roofs of the existing buildings on Avenue Fonsny, which will be used to create roof gardens and terraces. The renewal of the site is based on a sustainable renovation. It will be a passive building, with solar panels on the roof of the new linear volume. Special emphasis will also be placed on biodiversity and the upcycling of materials.

The building’s total height will be 60.55 meters with the new volume. By adding a new volume to an existing building, many extra square meters of usable space are created without having to break new ground. However, the final design has a building layer less than the design presented during the architectural competition. In the final design, the number of floors, after consultation with various involved parties, has been reduced by one floor to ensure a proper integration into the environment and to harmonize the volume height with the height of existing buildings in the immediate vicinity.

In addition to a new gateway to the city and an upgrade of the entire district, the renovated site will also become NMBS’s new home base with office space, meeting and training rooms and other facilities such as a green roof terrace available. to everyone outside office hours. The building will house the essential functions of the national railway traffic and will therefore become the nerve center for the real-time management of the railway traffic in our country.

Due to the centralization of the NMBS offices in the new headquarters, several existing buildings in the area will become vacant. This creates new opportunities for the development of other urban functions, such as housing. These include the ‘France-Bara’ and ‘Zennewater-Delta’ buildings in France Street and the ‘Atrium’ in Hallepoortlaan. The latter building today forms a large blank wall along a large part of the inner ring road. A reconstruction of the building with activation of the ground floors will be a great added value for the environment.

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