OXY - Centre Monnaie
The Centre Monnaie, located just next to the Brouckère square, is one of the few massive office buildings present in the historic city centre of Brussels. Commissioned by the Belgian Post and the City of Brussels in the 1970’s, it was part of the infamous and unfinished “Manhattan Plan” that envisioned the construction of a large number of high-rise office buildings extending all the way from the city centre to the North district. These towers were supposed to be connected by pedestrian platforms and footbridges – an unrealized ambition that explains the “podium” present in the Centre Monnaie and its siblings such as the Philips Tower and Brussel’s World Trade Centre.
In 2018, the Post and the Administration decided to sell the Centre Monnaie, which was acquired by real estate players Whitewood and Immobel. The duo of developers planned a 150-million euro renovation aimed at creating a mixed-used project combining offices, apartments and a hotel. An international architecture competition was launched, resulting in the appointment of Norwegian office Snøhetta as design architect, assisted by offices DDS+ and Binst as “local” execution architects.
Early in the design phase, Rotor was asked to join the project team in order to help define a circular approach to the project, help integrate reuse principes in the design, and translate these choices into tender documents. Based on the experience gained with the project MULTI (former Philips tower), Rotor and the commissioners chose to set the circular ambitions higher. Next to preserving around 89% of the existing building (percentage in weight, including foundations), the ambition is that 4 à 6% of the materials used for the new project would come from reuse. Next to that, other targets have been set concerning recycled and bio-based materials.
Through a collaboration like this one, we want to contribute to the development of a renovation culture in the private real estate sector that is more gentle for the post-war corporate built heritage. Approaches such as the preservation of the building’s structure, reclaiming and reusing materials, finding a design language that respects the building's identity, etc… are not only necessary steps to allow for a circular renovation, but are also an excellent way to foster a reconciliation between the city and its “obsolete” office buildings.
Concretely, the work of Rotor on this project consisted in: helping setting up a global circular strategy; establishing a reclamation audit; organising work sessions with the design team to guide choices related to material choices, preservation, reuse and recycling; sourcing materials on the reclamation market; and helping with the redaction of some tender specifications.
A project by
Lionel Billiet, Fien Deruyter, Olivia Noël, Tom Schoonjans, Margot Schurmans, Pierre-Yves Volont with the help of the whole Rotor team
Architects: Snohetta, DDS+, Binst
Commissioner: Whitewood, Immobel
Boulevard Anspachlaan, Brussels, Belgium