Compiled by TeamIAnD
Photography: Hufton+Crow & Eva Bloem; courtesy UNStudio
UNStudio in collaboration with Belgian architects Jaspers-Eyers hybridise a traditional building-block typology with a mixed-use development and retail podium in Brussels.
Le Toison d’Or is located on the Avenue de la Toison d'Or between two historical gates(the Porte Louise and the Port de Namur), integrating into the urban fabric of its surroundings.
Developed with high standards of sustainability, some of the main features include excellent thermal isolation of the façade (including triple glazing), high standard of acoustic insulation, an inventive co-generation installation system for both the apartments and the retail units, and the use of glass-fibre reinforced concrete.
Le Toison d'Or houses 72 apartments (from 50 to 750 sq. m.), 13,000 sq. m. of commercial space, a 1040 sq. m. crèche, 330 parking spaces and an elevated city garden of 2,950 sq. m.
Variations in texture, depth and the repeating rhythm of a series of curved vertical frames are a welcome break to the monolithic qualities common to block structures. These frames serve to enclose the balconies of the apartments on the upper floors, whilst facilitating the large display windows of the retail units.
“In architecture, we tend to favour abstraction and to avoid figuration. But on the street facade of the Toison d’Or building, we wanted to investigate the space between the abstract and the figurative, to create moments of tacit allusion to the pictorial,” explains Ar. Ben van Berkel of UNStudio. “The building creates an illusion that the vertical balloon-like frames are carrying the building; as if the whole block almost has the potential to float above the avenue,” he continues.
In contrast to the vertical articulation of the street facade, the facades surrounding the elevated courtyard garden follow a horizontal arrangement. Here, generously proportioned balconies provide a more tranquil experience of city life.
In the interiors too, high levels of daylight are ensured with the floor-to-ceiling heights reaching a minimum of 2.7 metres in living areas. Open kitchens in the form of large furniture elements create an informal entertaining space in the heart of the apartments and determine the circulation through the home.