Previously, one of Europe’s largest railways, Gare Maritime, has been transformed into a covered city with a mixed-use working, shopping, and leisure program. The new transformation of the station adds twelve new pavilions under the impressive steel structure from the 20th-century.
Gare Maritime got its new transformation as a unique city district by Neutelings Riedijk Architects in cooperation with Bureau Bouwtechniek, commissioned by Extensa. Once Europe’s largest railway station for goods, Gare Maritime is now turned into an inspiring place for companies, ranging from start-ups to renowned brands. Together they create an impressive public space for all kinds of events. The architects describe this building as ‘a city where it never rains’.
“The twelve pavilions create a new structure of boulevards and street, parks and squares, that follows the existing urban context and the building structure in a natural and logical way, like a true city,”’ illustrates Michiel Riedijk from Neutelings Riedijk Architects.
The architects drew inspiration from the ‘Ramblas’, creating sixteen- metres-wide pedestrian street on both sides of the central green boulevard. The central boulevard designed by landscape architect OMGEVING is the heart of the building. A total of ten gardens based on four themes have been constructed; the woodland garden, the flower garden, the grass garden and the fragrance garden. The space is open for public events and features eight mosaics by local artist, Henri Jacobs.
Gare Maritime’s key focus was to create a healthy working environment, with plenty of light, open workspace. The offices are provided with large open oak windows that serve as balconies for upper-level offices on upper floors.
The circular design was the main starting point for Gare Maritime, and the choice of wood led to an enormous reduction in the amount of cement used; in concrete, the building would have been five times heavier. Thanks to prefabrication and the dry construction method, the construction time was considerably shorter than traditional construction methods.
Use of modular grid can accommodate various functions such as offices, workshops, shops and showrooms. The result is the design of demountable connections and modular wooden building elements.
Gare Maritime is an energy neutral and fossil-free creation. A total of 17,000 square metres of solar panel has been installed on the roof. It uses geothermal energy and reuses rainwater to nourish central water gardens. The new built-in volume has been realised in cross-laminated timber (CLT) with façade finishes in oak (FSC), to reduce the amount of embodied energy during the construction process.
In the first phase, the existing historic building was carefully restored by Jan de Moffarts Architects, Bureau Bouwtechniek, Ney & Partners and Boydens. The Gare Maritime development is an essential contribution to the development of the Tour & Taxis site and the Kanaalzone in Brussels. The preservation of this monumental building emphasises Brussels’s exemplary role in sustainability.
Architect: Neutelings Riedijk Architects, Rotterdam / Bureau Bouwtechniek, Antwerpen
Architectural design: Neutelings Riedijk Architects
Architectural design team: Michiel Riedijk, Willem Jan Neutelings, Dieter de Vos, Kenny Tang, Alejandro Mosquera Garcia, Alexey Boev, Anselmo Nižić, Frank Venhorst, Pietro Manara
Architectural engineering: Bureau Bouwtechniek
Civil and structural engineering renovation: Ney & Partners BXL
MEP: Boydens engineering, Brugge
Building physics: Boyden's engineering, Brugge
Landscape architect: OMGEVING, Antwerpen
Restoration architect: Jan de Moffarts
Interior designer: Neutelings Riedijk Architects
Artist: Henri Jacobs
Cost consultant: Bureau Bouwtechniek
Acoustics: Venac, Brussel
Fire safety: FPC Risk, Antwerpen
Main contractor: MBG
Wood contractor: Züblin
Installations contractor: Cegelec, VMA, NTSA, Van Hoey, IFTech
Project coordination, safety manager: Bopro
Neutelings Riedijk Architects was founded in 1987 by Willem Jan Neutelings and Michiel Riedijk. Since 2020 the office is led by principal architect Michiel Riedijk and managing director Carl Meeusen.