Located along the canal, the complex of the old Belle-Vue brewery is a part of a continuous façade of the post-industrial block that is particularly enclosed and difficult to access. The project aims to lighten the urban density by creating visual links to the heart of the building block by creating new openings. Meanwhile, a new construction at the end of the plot finally unifies the entire site.
Considered as an important Brussels industrial site with a strong identity, the Belle-Vue Brewery site is inscribed in the collective consciousness as a uniform and impenetrable unit. In 2009, the municipality of Molenbeek-Saint-Jean and three other Brussels investors bought this heritage building site from Inbev with an idea to include it in the future regeneration of the neighborhood.
The project, led by the association of Escaut-MSA-Grontmij, takes in account the building complex block that includes Malterie (eng. the malting block) and Ecuries (eng. the stables). The core of the project assumes an urban master plan, developed by MSA, and aims to characterize the architectural and social context of the complete conversion of the site in order to propose a list of recommendations for protecting the industrial identity and to create effective tools for improving social exchanges.
Articulation and valorization of the heritage
The strong contemporary interventions around the Malterie allow a very tactical exposure of the heritage and its new image of a multifunctional complex that fosters exchanges and is able to “brew” both local and international audiences. One of the necessary steps to achieve this idea was to open the site vis-à-vis the city by erasing the surrounding wall and preserving the interior carriageway as a discrete link between the common and private zones.
Although the first site study suggested a hotel facing the canal and Brussels City, the Escaut-MSA-Grontmij proposal offers to open as well towards Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, Sennette side and Brunfaut Pierron district. Therefore, a new building is erected at the end of the site. This volume becomes an important urbanistic intention as it helps to accentuate the presence of the new intervention in the context. It drastically changes the position of the site in relation to the neighborhood.
The need for complementary light supply is solved by two new openings that pierce the Malterie building in front and back façades. These cut-out voids lighten the formal density of the building and allow the creation of pleasant terraces opening towards the city. These terraces shall also be able to enhance the encounters between the future users of the building.
Programmatic diversity and social exchanges
Following the program and masterplan visions that gave birth to the project, the project intends to create a real diversity of functions. A hotel and hotel management school, a communal education center, plus the social restaurant Groot Eiland and the hammam baths in Malterie building block are all beneficial for the project integration within its neighborhood.
The Hotel Belvue project includes designing 29 guest rooms, a dining room with a panoramic terrace, a lecture room and 1,000 m2 of space for hotel management school. There, La Mission Locale of Molenbeek-Saint-Jean intends to develop education courses in the hotel industry (for preparing room and reception staff), tourism and event management. In coherence to that, the new hotel will become a real tool for the practice of the trainees.