Environmental Incubator, Workshops and Offices rue Lefèvre in Brussels.
Located on a long-abandoned and polluted 4-hectare industrial site near the city center, BRUSSELS GREENBIZZ is part of a large-scale 14-hectare urban development called TIVOLI, publicly funded by European FEDER funds and CITYDEV. TIVOLI includes both housing (+/-450 units, on site end 2014) and economic facilities in which GREENBIZZ (12.000sqm) holds the pivotal role.
It includes workshops for environment-oriented businesses and spin-offs (low-energy), an incubator (nzeb) and office space (passive), plus an array of extra amenities open to the public including exhibition space and café. Two principal volumes (phases I and II) articulate a new public plaza offering transition between the more industrial quartier to the south and the more urban and residential one to the north. Sitting in limbo between these apparently opposed activities, the project’s role is to create synergy: encouraging visitors as well as occupants, confirmed specialists as well as budding pioneers-to-be, adults as well as children to be part of the collective emulation housed within. Its dynamic, generous, and permeable organization, its mission to create responsible employment, and its clearly expressed sustainable identity all carry the same message: sustainable design can and must be about so much more than implementing energy-efficiency and responsible material-sourcing … sustainable design must be about implementing hope.
Occupying the most strategic corner on site, the grand entrance lobby is a high-ceilinged light-filled communal space greeting occupants and visitors, but also the quartier and all its inhabitants. The open and modular volume allows for exhibitions, meetings, group activities or other events, and is completed by a cafeteria that should sprawl out onto the street and plaza whenever weather permits. The corner position allows for fluid access to meeting rooms and administration at mezzanine level, to the incubator above, and to workshops behind.
Six and eight meters high inside, workshops face each other alongside two covered open-air streets federating activities arranged along them. These streets are shared collective space welcoming very diverse animations, permeable and see-through on their north-south axis, offering the show of bustling animation to neighbors and passers-by at street-level but also from the incubator above. All vehicle access (trucks, cars, deliveries, …) is concentrated south on the rue Lefèvre on this noisy and traffic-ridden side of the block, ensuring as such that the three other sides get relative calm.
Both streets are hooked-up north to a perpendicular promenade alongside the residential quartier and the proposed shared street-space parallel, this promenade leading directly back to the entrance lobby and out onto the plaza OR up to the incubator at rooftop level. This east-west pedestrian backbone used by both workshop and incubator occupants is fully visible on its entire length street-side … hoping to make the liveliness going on inside the building more the clincher than the building itself.
Perched above the workshops but only one-level thick, the incubator lays low in order to ensure maximum sun penetration into housing across the street, bridges the bustling open-air streets below, and gently folds itself around two sun-filled patios.
Let it be noted that the built and unbuilt forms of GREENBIZZ do not embody the end result or final product of any one of the particular workshops inside, however sustainable their production might be … they seethe and embody instead the federating experience going on inside these workplaces, the collective effort, the emulation, the bustling exchange. Work is expressed as something lively, something tempting, something to share, something permeable, something responsible and especially something accessible to all especially to the children playing ball on that plaza or sitting around watching the ballet of carts in those open-air streets.