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Cityzen

Brussels/ Belgium

Competition year/ 2020
Status/ Design proposal
Client/ Immobel and Whitewood
Other collaborators/ Aerial view from FINM.eu

Cityzen is a large mixed-use redevelopment of the existing Centre Monnaie, situated in the historic heart of Brussels, Belgium. Our adaptive reuse design proposal, Papillon, includes a mix of functions— dwellings, workplaces, a hotel and an apartment hotel— combined in a tightly choreographed unity that provides a clear and powerful visual identity on the city skyline. By embracing the existing building and enhancing its inherent qualities and potential, we bring it to new heights, finding the perfect blend of today and tomorrow. Cityzen will become a destination for living, working, and playing, creating a green, sustainable landmark for the 21st century.

The site is centrally located at the Place de la Monnaie, adjacent to the royal opera house, and flanked by Boulevard Anspach, the Brouckère Square, and the famous shopping street Rue Neuve.

The dynamic curvature of Cityzen offers an abundance of spatial experience around the building as it retracts the upper floors and opens to the sky. Here we create large sunken gardens that bring daylight deep into the floorplan. In each green courtyard, we create a finetuned landscape identity that reflects Belgium's incredibly diverse landscape.

The responsive design of the façade expression enhances the existing building silhouette. We aimed to evoke openness and playfulness, without compromising the existing identity of the former Centre Monnaie. The unified facade design creates a homogeneous image, equally important from all sides.

Cityzen creates a new identity with respect to and in correlation with what already exists. Atop the existing base, the tower is light and almost levitating with its unique façade skin. It unifies the whole rather than separating each individual function. The rooftop is a new public addition to the Brussels skyline and a celebration of the city's landscape with its hanging gardens visible from the surrounding areas.

Cityzen will become an icon for urbanity. The project is a celebration of a new landscape in a contemporary “state-of-the-art” environment and provides valuable bonds between the brand, its stakeholders and the citizens of Brussels.

The entire building is formed as a continuous landscape that fluidly connects the spaces with the city. The entrance lobby becomes an orangery, the courtyard atriums a natural terrain, and the rooftops an open landscape connected to the horizon.

We have studied the impact of solar radiation on the facade and defined the façade elements modulation after the simulation results, optimizing the performance of the building envelope.

Our proposal studies several opportunities for future-proofing the premises should either the market or ownership changes. "Design for Disassembly", one of the key Circular principles, was a major design driver throughout the design process.

The green hanging gardens placed inside the open atriums are the very catalyst of the project. They connect Boulevard Anspach and Place de la Monnaie in one strong architectural grip, that connects park life and urban tissue while contributing greatly to human well-being.

Cityzen takes a biophilic approach to architectural design— from the expression of the dynamic movement of the façade design to the physical and ephemeral presence of nature in the building. Spaces provide a proven incline in the three-overarching mind-body systems— cognitive, psychological, and physiological. It also provides a new habitat for the life of birds, bees, and butterflies.

Exterior spaces have been designed and programmed with human health, social value, biodiversity and resource preservation in mind. Each space creates a microclimate suitable for different biotopes. Symbolically the building unifies these territories and experiences. Ecologically, they offer precious corridors for the passage of insects and birds through the site. Socially, they create diverse experiences for the building occupants and maximize the potential for connection to nature. And performatively, they filter rainwater for use in the building's non-potable systems. Even the return water of the hotel laundry may use detergents that fertilize and feed certain plants as the plants recycle the water.

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