Bruges, Belgium, 7 December 2017
The existing structure of the city of Bruges and its historical structure shows that large public buildings have an openness and interaction towards the urban landscape. Not everywhere as strong but still it provides an urban fabric that connects neighborhoods to each other. These elements determine the identity of the city of Bruges. The exhibition and congress building also requires a similar approach in which public space and green, as shown by the historical analysis of the location, ensure that the neighborhood is upgraded and becomes an important anchor point again within the urban fabric of Bruges.
In the conceptual exploration various possible solutions were investigated, from lifted building volumes, volumes divided into the smallest possible parts, to semi-submerged buildings, but all of them did not deliver the public quality and urban space that the structure of the city and the surrounding buildings demanded. This made it clear that a radical solution was needed, a solution that ensures that the balance sought is actually found, a balance that creates a new place for the people of Bruges and the city itself. This solution was found by completely placing the closed volume of the exhibition hall and the logistics components of the program underground and using the roof of these spaces as a city square and park; the BeursPARK.
Following the exhibition hall, the congress building was half sunken and laid on the eastern side of the square. A large open foyer is positioned around the congress volume, which provides access to the exhibition hall and the entire congress part of the program.
The foyer is situated at ground level of the BeursPARK and forms the entrance coming from the Smedenstraat, via the Kegelschoolstraat and Zwijnstraat and coming from ‘t Zand, via the Hauwerstraat.On top of the large sunken conference room the flexible smaller conference facilities and the necessary break-out rooms are situated. The pavilion like building which tops out over the surrounding houses holds the restaurant and has views towards the BeursPARK and the three historic towers that shape the skyline of the city of Bruges. The various program components of the building are connected in such a way that they can function both independently and in complete coherence.
This structure means that the building volume is limited to a minimum and that the central element of the design is the BeursPARK, a place for those living nearby, Congress and trade fair visitors and the city of Bruges. A public space to rest, play, gather and organize events. By minimizing the building volume above ground and making a division into usage between the different functions, the project seamlessly fits into its immediate environment and creates a dialogue between the BeursPARK and the historic roof landscape of the city of Bruges.
BeursPARK is a new lung within the city that attracts young and old, small and large, even outside the periods when large parts of the building are not in use. A new city park for a part of Bruges that can no longer be disconnected from the historic heart of the city, but rather a new anchor point in the urban fabric of Bruges.
Images by OMA
Exhibition hall, congress Centre , landscape
Building 20.000 m² BVO
Square 7.000 m²
U/Define and OMA
Royal Haskoning DHV