The long-awaited "The Dome" redevelopment project, on the corner of the Place de la Bourse and Avenue Anspach in Brussels, officially received the green light – a milestone in revitalising the Brussels city centre.
The project – named after the large copper roof dome that opens onto the Bourse – will become a multifunctional building of 21,000 m² with retail, restaurants, offices and residences, characterised by its architectural appearance and respect for the history of the building and its surroundings.
"The decision to rebuild the central avenues and give them back to the people was one of the City's best decisions in decades," said Brussels State Secretary for Urban Planning and Heritage Pascal Smet, who has been leading the city's urban development revolution.
"We can now see the effect of this in the wider area: numerous buildings are being thoroughly renovated bringing a new dynamism to the city centre." Smet cited the Stock Exchange (Bourse) building, the Multi-tower, and the Grand Café: "We are bringing back the grandeur of the city centre avenues of yesteryear."
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The building was built in the 1870s and was named 'Les Grands Magasins de la Bourse' ("The big shops of the Bourse") because it housed Belgium's first department store. In 1948, the building suffered heavy damage in a fire and in 1970 it was converted into a retail and office building and renamed 'Bourse Center.'
In 2018, the Brussels-Capital Region sold it with the aim of "bringing back the soul of the building" and giving it a multifunctional use. VDD Project Development and Vervoordt r.e have been selected for the latest redevelopment.
"The Dome will prioritise high-quality, attractive architecture with a programme that will define the experience of the entire area," said Managing Partner VDD Project Development Johan Vandendriessche.
"The building will have a new future, restoring its historical grandeur and reinterpreting the Haussmannian architecture in a contemporary way. This contrast will give the building a contemporary identity... A new page is being written in the history of this emblematic Brussels location."
Drawing the city into the building
The team will reinterpret the Parisian architecture that is characteristic of the city's central avenues to restore the building's strong architectural identity. Vertical façade elements will be accentuated, the mansard roof will be replaced by sleekly designed dormers, balconies will be introduced under the eaves, the canopy will be shaped and historical elements, such as the dome, will be repainted.
The building's plinth will open up to the maximum and interact with the surrounding public space, inspired by its original function, to "draw the city into the building, as it were."
Additionally, the Italian 'EATALY' marketplace chain of restaurants, cafés and a supermarket will make its long-awaited entry into Belgium. It will extend over the ground floor on the corner of Place de la Bourse, Boulevard Anspach and Rue Paul Devaux and will occupy the entire first floor of the building – a total of 3,500 m².
The second, third and fourth floors will feature 7,500 m² of state-of-the-art offices, connected by a glass atrium at the heart of the building and a roof garden. On the fifth to eighth floors, 55 rental flats between 38 m² and 105 m² will be created, according to the co-living concept.
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In terms of sustainability and ecology, The Dome will make full use of solar panels and heat pumps whilst also working on maximum heat recovery and cooling elements to keep consumption to a minimum. Brussels authorities envisage 144 parking spaces for (cargo) bikes and only five parking spaces for electric shared cars.
"The Dome is a new economic project in the pedestrian zone of Brussels," said Mayor Philippe Close. "As already demonstrated with other real estate examples, the city centre is evolving and more and more investors are opting for our urban policy."
Work will start in the first quarter of 2023 and is expected to take two to three years.