109 KANAL

une scène pour Bruxelles - a stage for Brussels

i.c.w. EM2N and Sergison Bates architects
Procedure Architecture competition
Client fondation stichting Kanal
Surface 39.100 m2
Phase preliminary design
Date 2017 -

Not just a building and not just a location
The proposal for Kanal reflects on the position of the twenty-first century museum in society. The former Citroën garage is the starting point. The fact that a building of this scale – 100 × 200 metres – is available in the heart of the Brussels-Capital region offers unmatched opportunities that it would be diffucult to achieve with a new building. The building is located in the heart of the Plan Canal, the area where new developments focus on a contemporary mix of housing, working, leisure and production spaces– the activity that is historically linked to the canal area. This is also the centre of the so-called ‘croissant pauvre’ – an area of Brussels that bears the marks of poverty and unemployment, but is for that very reason attractive to newcomers of all kinds: people new to Brussels, young families, artists, young creative practices.

A radical Optimism that trusts what is there
Reflecting on this building, this location, the idea of a cultural hub calls for an overall attitude, an approach to dealing with all the questions at stake. Rather than a spectacular gesture, our proposal offers an attitude of radical Optimism: critical, receptive, dedicated, precise. Out of the comfort zone. thinking about Brussels, its future and complexity, requires a radical approach. Not in terms of architecture – here we just need an intelligent approach – but in terms of the infrastructure the region offers its inhabitants. the spaces may be recognisable, but the atmosphere, the energy, the dynamics should be experienced rather than displayed. We want to radically engage with and trust what is there.