Beursplein & Congresgebouw Brugge
META architectuurbureau and Eduardo Souto de Moura design the Beursplein & Congresgebouw urban renewal project in Bruges.
The City of Bruges decides to commence an urban renewal project after it had become increasingly clear that it fell short of contemporary requirements in terms of building physics and programming. In addition to the construction of the new beursplein (an exhibition hall that converts into a covered public square), which is expanded with a congress building (congresgebouw), the entire site will also be renewed.
The combination of an exhibition hall and a conference centre creates a natural convergence between the two functions. Moreover, the addition of a conference facility not only addresses the demand for receiving groups of 500+ people in the heart of Bruges, but also enhances what Bruges can offer its visitors, with the city welcoming a mixture of conference delegates (particularly during the week) and tourists (especially on weekends).
The team of architects – Eduardo Souto de Moura and META architectuurbureau – have designed the exhibition hall as a covered and lockable square where all kinds of events – such as trade fairs and concerts – can take place. But at the same time, when no activities are planned, the building can be transformed into a public covered square: one that is accessible to all passers-by and forms an integral part of the neighbourhood. The opening up of the exhibition hall’s external walls to create a covered public square during fallow periods is a logical move. This urban renewal project delivers a building that is both neighbourhood-orientated and urban, which will be a pleasure to use, and bring a new dynamic to the district and wider city.
The Beursplein & Congresgebouw are linked by a common entrance and can be used simultaneously or as completely independent facilities. While the exhibition hall is organised horizontally, is grafted onto the neighbourhood and is immediately accessible from the outside, the congress hall is stacked vertically. This latter volume, which can accommodate at least 500 people, is designed according to the ‘three-chairs principle’: a conference delegate is allocated a seat in the plenary hall, in the meeting rooms and in the catering space. This dining area is adjacent to a terrace that offers an unparalleled view of the Bruges skyline.
The Beursplein & Congresgebouw in Bruges has a robust and solid appearance and is made of recycled brick. The entire building rests on a glass pedestal with metal frames and fixtures, which enhances the transparency of the ground floor and emphasises the public character of the covered square.
The preservation of the existing and highly-prized trees that currently define the Beursplein was a basic principle for the design team from the very outset. Digging them up needlessly was never an option. This vision is an integral part of the strategy for the design of a new building that not only meshes with the city but also engages in an open dialogue with the neighbourhood.
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