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Brussels, Snøhetta, Centre Monnaie

Four Aspects of Sustainability: Transformation of the Centre Monnaie in Brussels

The striking, cruciform Centre Monnaie stands above the Mint shopping centre in one of Brussels’ most lively districts. The office and commercial centre, which is 63 metres high, was built in the 1970s. The owners, Immobel and Whitewood, would now like to transform the building and its 62,000 m2  into a mixed-use residential-office-hotel complex in order to better meet the needs of the city, which have changed. Of the five shortlisted projects in the design competition, the submission by Snøhetta and Binst Architects convinced the jury coordinated by the Bouwmeester (chief architect) of Brussels, who commented: “The winning project respects the architectural quality of the existing structure. It is characterized by its well-considered approach to sustainability.” Versatility, reuse and flexibility stand at the forefront of the new design. Moreover, a life-cycle analysis (LCA) is to be carried out for the project.

The architects have kept the characteristic shape and silhouette of the existing building in their design. They have reworked the façade and the interior spatial organization. Around one metre from the existing façade, a new building shell of steel will encompass the structure like a second skin. Photovoltaic cells between the posts, as well as a passive ventilation system, will take on technical functions and thus relieve the burden on the interior. The indoor spaces will be more flexible; less of the existing structure will face demolition.

The Centre Monnaie used to be closed to the public. Now, in order to create a better connection with the outdoors, the base storey will be home to a restaurant with a rooftop garden. Visitors can look forward to a spectacular view of the Royal Opera House and Munt Plaza.

The transformation should be complete by 2024. Brussels’ DDS and ADE studios will support Snøhetta and Binst Architects in their work.

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