Vincent Callebaut Architectures has unveiled an ambitious plan to turn a former industrial area in Brussels, Tour & Taxis, into a cutting edge sustainable community. The proposal involves renovating existing buildings and the construction of new greenery-clad residential high-rises. Naturally, being a Callebaut project, it's also packed to the gills with green tech and would produce more energy than it requires.
Built in the early 1900s, Tour & Taxis served as a customs clearance and storage complex throughout the 20th century. Having become obsolete, it's now undergoing significant renewal and is already a destination for tourists and locals.
Fans of Callebaut's previous work should enjoy the architectural eye-candy on display here, and the proposal very much conforms to the futuristic design language we've come to expect from him.
The most notable feature is the construction of three new greenery-clad high-rises – or "vertical forests" – like the Bosco Verticale or Callebaut's own Agora Garden. With a total floorspace of 85,000 sq m (915,000 sq ft), the vaguely ski-jump shaped buildings would rise to a maximum height of 100 m (328 ft), and be topped by a roof clad in solar panels. Their balconies would be used to grow fruit and vegetables.
Elsewhere, Callebaut envisions Tour & Taxis' vast 50,000 sq m (538,000 sq ft) former Marine Terminal being adapted and reused, with its interior split into distinct areas. Geodesic domes would include restaurants and bar spaces, while raised, pod-like CLT (cross-laminated timber) structures would provide meeting spaces. Retail and open space offices would be located within more curved CLT structures, and small greenhouses would be affixed to the building's exterior.
Sustainable tech earmarked for the project includes wind turbines, large solar panel arrays, airtight building envelopes, natural ventilation, and rainwater harvesting.
Indeed, so much energy would be produced by the project (a calculated 186 percent of its annual electricity requirements) that Callebaut says there would be a large surplus which could be redistributed to neighboring historic buildings and any future developments.
We've no word as to how likely it is that the Tour & Taxis proposal will be realized. Whether or not it does indeed go ahead, the architect posits that it could serve as a blueprint for other European cities.