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Competition Proposal for the developpement of MoorkensPlein to a library, nursery, children center

Location :
Client :
City of Antwerp
Planning :
Category :
What an opportunity! To think about a new open and shared space, through an atypical figure, in a dense part of the city. Fascinated, we look at what is already there - thinking of the new to come -: the imposing district house, the existing breaks in scale, the greenery, the public infrastructure. We envision the open space as a sequence of three urban figures side by side: the majestic and representative square Moorkens with the impressive district house, the enveloping park at the corner of the Tide and Lang street; and the common, enclosed inner garden, which could eventually be opened up towards the Mellaert street.

What a building! It stands at the border of these three figures, it defines these borders, it mediates. It opens and closes where necessary.
The volume is special: elongated, with a gradient of heights and functions. ()

We think about our ecological footprint, the way we build, the way we treat what already exists. We do not make immediate judgements: we engage in a pragmatic exercise of reflection. A new figure emerges: a distorted version of the proposed volume. A simple repurposing: reuse a generous plan, dismantle (and then repurpose) where necessary, demolish some floors where too many, redevelop towards Baker Street.

The fold of the building finds its logic in the narrative of open and green spaces. This is the hinge of the story: a combined entrance for the three functions, linked to a common space: the Agora. Located in the centre of the surrounding park, it is visually linked to the garden and gives direction to the library on the one hand, and to the nursery, the Children's House and the backstage area on the other. This is where everything comes together. Where the different street facades form the multiform character of this new public infrastructure, the continuous park facade with the agora in the middle gives the whole an unambiguous identity.

() From west to east, we list the following proposals: the corner that the project shows on Moorkens square will be lowered by two floors. The cornice of this new volume will be aligned with the existing fabric to ensure good urban integration. It will be an open and airy plateau that will form - without any barriers - the outdoor spaces of the accommodation centre. Next to it, the existing library will be generously preserved and the existing police building will be demolished. This gives the central volume a distinctly urban and public character, while the flanks of this building become open and bright. This reworked volume is provided with a strip to the south: a new circulation to keep the floors truly flexible. This strip forms one of the facades of the new flanking park. The centre and the east are made up of new volumes. As the main part is made up of single-storey buildings, we try to reuse the columns of the volumes to be demolished, after careful analysis, of course. This creates a simple and spatial structure for the ground floor programme.

The agora is used as a central point of access. Several zones are directly adjacent to it, as well as a series of multipurpose rooms, visible from street level, easily accessible via the entrance. All stairs are always parallel to an extreme building boundary, easily recognisable.

A clear figure emerges on the floors: open plateaus with unambiguous programmatic infill, safeguarded by the new southern circulation, and generously provided with outdoor spaces on the new roof and, of course, the reuse of the plateaus towards Moorkens square. Three levels of childcare, the back office on the top floor. The rescaling of the building, the new facades and adjoining architectures ensure that the whole finds a proper fit in its context.

The library extends over two levels. The ground floor, directly connected to the park, consists mainly of the Agora area of the library. A cut in the building, a very long void where the staircase is also located, connects two levels, gives spatiality to the whole. The linear plan also allows zones to be defined without sacrificing daylight. Upstairs, youngsters and adults find their place, also with the specific outdoor space for the library on the roof. These outdoor spaces, since they are located above the ground floor, keep a strong connection to the street and the park.

(extracts from the competition proposal)