META and van Bergen Kolpa Architecten to construct rooftop greenhouse for Roeselare’s Agrotopia
The Belgian architectural practice META and the Dutch firm van Bergen Kolpa Architecten have won the design competition for the construction of a new food research and exhibition centre for the provincial research centre Inagro. The design team is to build a greenhouse on the roof of the REO vegetable and fruit wholesale market in Roeselare, West Flanders. This is set to become the largest food research centre for greenhouse vegetables in Europe that is open to the public.
The 9,500-m² building houses high-tech research facilities for the cultivation of fruits and leaf vegetables, with an educational route for the public running throughout. Visitors can see how tomatoes, lettuce, sweet peppers and strawberries are grown in four different climatic zones. A wide staircase leads from the entrance hall to the urban agriculture square, where the visitor facilities are located. The façade of the building, which faces the ring road, comprises a double-height greenhouse designed for the exploration of innovative vertical cultivation methods. Its base incorporates a rainwater capture system with a reed bed filter.
Transparent glass and steel sculpture
Agrotopia is set to become a green landmark on Roeselare’s ring road. It is a transparent sculpture of glass and steel. The architecture consists of a thin greenhouse structure supported by the concrete base of the wholesale market building. The 3 basic components of Agrotopia are the steel substructure, the aluminium façade and the glass. Inspiration for future food production in the city, intensive use of space and circular energy and water usage will all be achieved via this innovative design. With a spectacular view over the wider area and the city, urban agriculture on industrial rooftops will be given a prominent place in Roeselare’s skyline.
"Agrotopia is a public building that will serve as a powerful beacon in Roeselare’s landscape. With its unique programme and visual appearance, it is sending out a clear signal about how to integrate food production and logistics into the city."
[ Niklaas Deboutte, META architectuurbureau ]
"We are delighted at this opportunity to work with our clients to bring this ambitious project to fruition. With it, Inagro and Reo Veiling show that professional food production can truly be connected to the city."
[ Jago van Bergen, van Bergen Kolpa Architecten ]
Construction will begin in 2017 and the building will open its doors to growers, researchers and the public in 2018.
Agrotopia marks the ever-closer links between Inagro - the provincial research institute for agriculture and horticulture - and the logistics sector, industrial partners and consumers.
About the team
META, van Bergen Kolpa Architecten, Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture, Smiemans and Tractebel Engineering are all collaborating on this project. The team was selected within the framework of the Flemish Government Architect’s Productive Landscape Pilot Projects.
‘Productive Landscape Pilot Projects’ is a collaboration between the Flemish Minister for the Environment, the Flemish Government Architect’s team, the Agriculture and Fisheries Department, Ruimte Vlaanderen and the Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research (ILVO).
META architecture office (BE)
For META, the essence of architecture is building, nothing more and nothing less. Architecture is a craft, a métier. For every problem a solution is devised that, if necessary, deviates from the beaten track. As a designer, you have to be ambitious. Designing with the intent to build for eternity is the starting point. Each building is designed to be perfectly adaptable in terms of function and interpretation. A sound building is a building that is designed for unpredictable events.
The designs can then be temperamental, offer resistance and sometimes also break free, but they are always well-thought-out.
META has won several architectural prizes including the Belgian Architecture Award and the Belgian Building Award. In 2016, the Flemish Housing Association [VVH] awarded the Inspiring Social Housing Prize to the Gildenhuis in Beveren.
Recent projects include: the Cadiz homes and offices, the Falconrui residential development, the Boshoek social housing in Boechout, the Gildenhuis in Beveren, the Montigny live-work units, the Datacenter for KU Leuven, and buildings D and M for the University of Antwerp.
META was founded in 1991, is led by partners Niklaas Deboutte and Eric Soors, and has approximately 15 employees.
Van Bergen Kolpa Architecten (NL)
Jago van Bergen and Evert Kolpa focus on implementing construction projects, developing visions and research. Their projects encompass a variety of different scales: from building design to interior design, and from landscape to process and ecology design. Central to their work is the creation of a balance between the programme, the landscape and natural resources.
Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture Research Institute
Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture collaborates with businesses, the scientific community and the government. It translates questions about cultivation and business operations into implementation-oriented research and innovation programmes. Wageningen UR is the collaborative network comprising Wageningen University and the DLO Research Foundation.
Smiemans Projecten boasts a long tradition of greenhouse construction and specialises in innovative glass constructions.
Tractebel is a multidisciplinary engineering and consultancy firm. Tractebel supports its clients in the detailed implementation of strategic choices and master plans, advises them on the detailed implementation of policy and feasibility studies, carries out detailed studies and takes care of project management.