Gare Maritime, a landmark in the Belgian capital, has been turned into a sustainable space for work and retail by Neutelings Riedijk Architects and Bureau Bouwtechniek.

Once Europe’s largest railway station for goods, now its preeminent site showcasing the potential of building with cross-laminated timber (CLT): Gare Maritime, built in the 20th century, continues to make history. Neutelings Riedijk Architects and Bureau Bouwtechniek collaborated to transform the Brussels monument’s interior into a modular 'city' hosting offices, showrooms, shops and more for start-ups and brands, as well as public space. At 45,000 sq-m large, 280 m long and 140 m wide, the building comprises 12 new pavilions which accommodate the private-meets-public programme, constructed in close adherence to sustainability principles. ‘They create a new structure of boulevards and streets, parks and squares, that follows the existing urban context and the building structure in a natural and logical way like a true city,’ says architect Michiel Riedijk.

The volumes, which house the commercial and office spaces, were realized in CLT with oak façade finishing, erected using modular wooden building elements and demountable connections. But the pledge of circularity that the architects made when beginning the project extends far beyond material use. Gare Maritime is entirely energy-neutral and fossil free, equipped with 17,000 sq-m of solar panels atop the roof. The central public space which embeds the pavilions is a prime illustration of the values behind the revitalization. It is complete with 100 large trees, ten themed gardens planned by landscape architects at Omgeving (kept lush through the reuse of rainwater) and 16-m-wide ‘pedestrian routes’ making it possible for tenants and visitors to enjoy it all.

Location Rue Picard 11, 1000 Brussels, Belgium