Watermaal-Bosvoorde, Belgium 2019 – 2023
Client: Souverain 25
This commission was won in a design competition organised by the City of Brussels, and is a joint project with the Antwerp-based practice Bovenbouw Architectuur. The Royale Belge building, located in the south east of Brussels, was completed in 1970 as the headquarters of the Royale Belge insurance company (later Axa), and is a fine and rather luxurious example of corporate architecture from the 1960s. The building is organised as a cross-shaped tower above a very large two-storey podium, and contained conference and training facilities as well as offices for its 1000 head office staff. It was designed by the renowned Belgian architect René Stapels, and both the building and the landscape is a protected national monument.
The new owners of the building, the consortium Sovereign 25, are reorganising the building for a mix of uses including conference, offices, co-working, hotel, health club and restaurant. The uses are arranged to have a synergy that will engage the full variety of spaces in the building, giving it a 24 hour life for tenants and visitors.
In order to enable the range of uses to share the large front-of-house spaces and to operate independently, the design makes a new circular hall space at the ground floor, which is cut through the floors of the podium in the centre of the plan. The new hall, which is 21m in diameter and three stories high, provides access and shared space for the co-working offices, hotel and health club on three floors. The new space has the generosity of space and detail that belongs to the spirit of the building.
The project is fundamentally about doing as little as possible to the protected building, reusing and recycling materials wherever possible, and making minimal alterations to allow the operation of its new purpose. Nevertheless, the glass façade is being replaced, with glazing of almost identical appearance, that will have a thermal performance to contemporary standards. The original external corten steel façade framework is retained.
The project is being delivered together with the executive Brussels-based architecture practice DDS+
Renovation work continues at the Royale Belge in Brussels. The façade replacement of the tower has been completed, which replicates the original design but with an expanded insulation zone. Work on the podium façade is underway, with a series of new openings connecting it to the landscape. A large cut has been made in the base of the building making way for the new atrium and four new columns to support the existing diagrid roof have been added.
Planning permission has been granted for the renovation and alteration of Royale Belge, a listed former company headquarters in the south of Brussels. The 39,000 sqm office building, built in 1970 and standing within a landscape that is also now listed, has been empty for the last 5 years. The new mixed use programme includes offices, hotel, health club, restaurant and co-working, and is being developed by the consortium Souverain 25.
Brussels (Watermaal-Bosvoorde), Belgium
2019 - present
Souverain 25 SA
Heritage Listed by the Royal Belgian Commission of Monuments and Sites
Caruso St John Architects
Adam Caruso, Peter St John
Nele Bergmans, Vassia Chatzikonstantinou, Kouros Azar, Benjamin Wells, Will Pirkis, Timo Keller, Fabienne Sommer, Shaan Patel
Atelier EOLE Paysagistes
RVR Studiebureau Van Reeth
Ruben Du Pré
VETO & Partners
Photography / visualisations
Caruso St John Architects / Bovenbouw Architectuur