New construction: commercial spaces & offices
In recent decades, major chain stores fled inner cities, preferring to settle along regional roads or in remote shopping centres. Thanks to the revival of the historic city centres as leisure and shopping destinations, retailers are now interested in reconquering their downtown locations. This has created the problem of inserting large volumes into the fine grain of an historic urban environment.
SOLUTION DEEMED PASSÉ
On the Bruul boulevard in Mechelen, a property developer bought up seven outdated buildings. A large electronics store and several smaller shops were interested in occupying the premises. A dialogue emerged between the developer and the Heritage Conservation authorities. To preserve the unique character of the street’s appearance, the developer originally proposed a project with a historicizing architectural style in the facades. The proposed solution was deemed passé. The pastiche failed to persuade the Heritage Conservation authorities.
"A shopping centre is little more than a large box. Why would you conceal that behind pseudo-medieval facades? Have the courage to show what it really is." – Mauro Poponcini, founding partner POLO Architects
This honest approach managed to convince the Heritage Conservation authorities and the property developer then appointed POLO Architects as project architect. For POLO Architects, an important precondition was that the building would have an articulated, noble facade.
"The project is first and foremost a reflection on how the facade functions in the street’s appearance." – Mauro Poponcini, founding partner POLO Architects
The design seizes a bend in the building line as an opportunity to mould the facade. By extending the building line on the upper floors in both directions, two intertwined volumes protrude from the surface of the facade. The fragmented facade is clad in grey brick using different masonry techniques: deep grooves for the sculptural volume, and horizontal strips in the top layer of the building.
photography: Filip Dujardin - Stijn Bollaert - Studio Claerhout
MG Real Estate