- Location: Hasselt, Belgium
- Program: Parking + Shop + Office + Appartement
- Area: 22.797 m²
- Year: 2017
- Status: Unrealized
The Hasselt Canal area urgently requires a different interpretation. Today this zone is mainly an undefined part of the City, with a fragmented identity, only a zone for the water industry, but with enormous potential. It was named Quartier Canal, a creative ribbon on the water.
The area is crying out for a newly thought-out spatial framework containing a number of city towers as carriers within a mix of functions such as education, research, creativity, culture, alternative living, and recreation, without losing its hybrid character. The water is enrichment and positions the city within a broader framework. The “extra” development of the public space around this waterline is absolutely necessary. The water must also connect the mix of functions, greenery, and a necessary new infrastructural network.
We will provide a city tower at the “head” of this hybrid zone. It will visually become an accumulation of different functions: craft companies, SMEs, water-related activities, wholesale and creative economy in one complex within the creative mind. We call it CUMULO.
In addition to the parking facilities, a reception function will also be housed on the plinth of the building, which links up with the character of Quartier Canal. Creative workplaces offer companies the opportunity to cluster in the middle of the flourishing Quartier Canal in combination with living. A possible catering function must form a meeting point, a link in the multifunctional tower and creative district. The bent shapes and the orientation of the building provide optimal light and an unobstructed view from the living and working areas. They offer a panoramic view of the area.
Architecturally we create two towers that are staggered in relation to each other in order to conceive an obstacle-free view. Each tower has 3 facades facing the water and one facade facing the city. Viewing axes towards the waterfront and city center is therefore optimal from every floor. By opting for deep-lying (winter) terraces that shift per floor, these terraces also provide natural sun protection. Structurally, we obtain a stack of (technical) floor discs and columns, held by one central circulation tube per section. The facades will be covered with a light facade material between the rhythm of open and closed, transparent and semi-transparent, vertical and horizontal, and mass and emptiness. The image ultimately forms one gesture, consisting of 2 parts that are separated by a gap of air and light.
We opt for a low-energy concept that still needs to be studied further. The use of excellent insulation and ventilation values, recuperation concepts, and attention to orientation are already taken starting points. The presence of water offers many possibilities. We will probably be cooling internally with canal water. Finally, the multifunctional character of the tower provides a mobility advantage. By stacking the functions, users will experience it as a vertical village, and the parking zone also contributes something to the current parking problem. Urban water traffic can also offer an upgrade through this gesture.