Out of seven shortlisted teams, noAarchitecten (Brussels), EM2N (Zurich), and Sergison Bates Architects (London) won a global design competition to convert the former Citroën garage at the Place de l’Yser in Brussels into a new cultural center.
The team describes the project, called the KANAL - Centre Pompidou, as “A Stage for Brussels”. With a total floor area of 39,100 square meters, the project will include a modern and contemporary art museum, a new Fondation CIVA regional architecture archive center, and public spaces devoted to culture, education, and leisure. The jury praised the winning proposal for how well it integrates within its context.
The other shortlisted teams included 51N4E/Caruso St John/l’AUC as/Thomas Demand; Diller Scofidio + Renfro/JDS Architects; Lhoas & Lhoas & Ortner & Ortner; OMA; OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen + Christ & Gantenbein; and ADVVT6AGWA.
The building is located in the heart of the fast-developing Plan Canal area in Brussels. Celebrating the former iconic Citroên showroom, the proposal opens up the building to create an inviting space for the public. One of the main entrances will lead into a grand public interior for displaying art and hosting events. The roof will feature a panoramic terrace.
Behind the showroom is an enormous workshop space that the design team plans to horizontally extend. “Floors, ramps and glass roofs define the hierarchy of the space, while windows wrap around it and offer views of the city. The frieze that emphasizes this movement will be activated and extended. The uninteresting office block will be demolished and replaced by an extension of the former workshop,” the design team describes.
The proposal includes three new volumes: museum spaces, an architecture archive, and a large auditorium. The volumes create spaces of various scales and atmospheres, and are also taller than the existing roofscape.
“By activating the underlying logic of the existing internal cross routes, the building becomes openly accessible to the public on all levels, offering many possible ways of connecting museum spaces, library and reading rooms, auditoria, workshops, restaurants, educational rooms. Existing ramps and bridges offer spaces for impromptu activities.”
At the public entrance level, spatial connections between the Kanal and Kaai are reinforced through the mutual use of performance spaces and artist residency facilities. “Long views across the space are intensified, accentuating the original refined yet rough industrial quality.”
“Let us not mistake the nature of this project: we are not talking about a Museum for Brussels. Although this is an important aspect of the brief, it is not what we are talking about, nor is it what we should be talking about. Kanal is much more than that. We call it A Stage for Brussels – with a large Art Museum and an Architecture Centre at its heart. We want the building to be a tribute to the public and a celebration of life in the city.”
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