Tuesday 19 December 2017 – Regen Tower
Europe for the population is not just an idea, it should be a place! However, a place or a building can be destroyed to build something new, an idea is bulletproof. The concept is therefore to build an idea, a symbol, something totally new to the city of Brussels. It has to be a landmark that attracts the people and Europe to one place, a place that is multifunctional, multicultural and can adapt to the needs of the users and the city.
The ideal way to experience this building, is to see it from afar and to be drawn to it by curiosity, either with or without knowl- edge of its origin... Arriving in the main square there is a cut in the built volume of the site creating an opening to the sky allowing morning light to revitalise the public spaces. Walking up the stairs that complete the circle of the original plaza there is on the right inside the base of the tower a café that serves coffee from the best roasters in Europe, towards the rear there are small studios open to the public where artists and craftsmen teach and ply their trade. From this level, there are two directions to travel. Down below is an indoor market space and a restaurant that serves the back-lot greenhouse restaurant. Up above is the main conference/ theatre hall with an ample lobby. Further up again a whole floor is occupied by the Library of European science and literature. Where reclaimed scaffolding is used to build the bookshelves.
Arriving from the south of the Marolles, the rue de la Samaritaine seems to seep and enter under this volume of contrasting existing concrete and new steel structure. The ground floor space under this eastern wing of the project is an area where a visitor can stop by the bookshop of European Utopia and sometimes small pop-up stores. They can ascend into the structure via steel staircase hung to scaffolding that brings one to the floors above where there might be a conference or a workshop. Even higher are smaller modules that belong to the Library of European science and literature where one can work, read or even just contemplate Europe. After conferences or art happenings visitors and residents mix in the in-between spaces to talk about Europe of the people.
The existing tower sits perched above this permeable and organic base with the only real changes in its exterior appearance a new façade that give it a less sombre appearance. It severs the purpose of offices and temporary communal housing. The concept of the building is the regrowth of a tree after a fire or crisis. The burnt tree trunk remains blackened by the heat but new green life sprouts from the ground up and the new growth wraps around the remains.