Learning and Innovation Center . Brussels

XDGA . Learning and Innovation Center . Brussels (1)


The ambition of the project is no less than to establish a central pivot, a public hotspot for both university campuses, providing space for informal meetings as well as for studious concentration.


After decades of doubt about their redundancy, libraries today have increasingly become in their nature ‘public space’. Our vision is to bring together the idea of ‘connection’ and the physical program of ‘learning center’ together in a single movement.

The campus street, the university esplanade and the landscaped hill are the three primary existing levels that collectively form the public space of the campus. A new building that makes the connection between the two institutions should also bring these three levels together into a consolidated yet open solution.

Within this complex context, we propose a simple yet perfect cube (39m x 39m x 39m) which cuts into the hillside, with one side parallel to the street and the existing faculty building. The building is emphatically not only focused on the two campuses, but to each of its sides and at every level; it has four similar facades and entrances on three sides. The compact volume has a minimum footprint and permits the maximum preservation of the existing topography and landscape.

Within the cube an outdoor foyer allows optimal communication between inside and outside. A monumental stairway connects the three existing levels of the campus and leads further up to the terrace of the cafeteria. The staircase then climbs up through the exhibition and leads to the main entrance lobby. The outdoor space continues in the form of a tiered patio and terraces with daylight openings on the south, west facade and the roof. All functions of the learning center and public spaces are visually connected.

A façade system with alternating open and closed vertical strips guarantees a certain intimacy to the outdoor space and great flexibility for the interior. They make the public space and the functions of the learning center into one whole. Interruptions of the strips mark all entrances, terraces and special features inside.

The structural and environmental strategies for the building are intrinsically built into the architectural form and expression of the architecture. The patio is both a key environmental device (natural ventilation and daylight) and organizes all internal circulation.
Connecting floorplates are afforded views through the entire building with generous communal spaces for interaction and informal meetings.

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