XDGA Xaveer de Geyter Architects – Kitchen Tower, 2011

  Frans Parthesius


XDGA Xaveer de Geyter Architects: xdga.be

The original hotel school CERIA-COOVI was installed in the countryside outside of Brussels during the Fifties. It is a superb modernist campus consisting of separate buildings interconnected by a new park. Since then, a tide of town houses rose around the campus and a new ring road built around the city suffocated the area. A new master plan was introduced not only to divide the formerly bilingual school into two linguistic entities but more importantly, to update the campus to its drastically changed context. The master plan also calls for the appropriation of the land along the ring road, a zone that is normally only desirable for commercial visibility. Therefore, a signal building is proposed along the ring road and adjacent to a central axis of the campus, extended to the southwest. Thus, the entire campus is suspended between an existing water tower and the new kitchen tower.

The concept of the building can be seen as a reversal of the classic typology of the tower. The traditional organization of a program around a core, in which all the vertical logistics are organized and which provides lateral stability, would not be appropriate here. Indeed, the proportion between the small program of stacked kitchen-classrooms and the amount of vertical logistics needed proves disproportionate here. This observation has led to the placement of the educational programs at the center and all the cores draped around them.

Facing the campus, a black, perforated rectangular volume contains an external fire escape. To the west, an interior staircase and a toilet are organized inside a trapezoid shape in gray concrete. Facing the ring road, a filter-like screen of four white elements that contain all the building services, including a high-performance air handling system for the eight kitchens and a service elevator, works as a sunshield. In the interstitial spaces, two panoramic elevators carry all building users. All vertical elements provide a kinetic game when seen from the car on the boulevard. These external ai???cores support the central floor slabs that measure 12 by 12 meters. Thus, the central space is completely stripped of structural elements.

The building operates as an autonomous entity within the campus. The stacking begins with an entrance hall and delivery area on the ground. Above are three different levels with pantries, general storage, and locker rooms with showers. These are followed by eight levels of kitchen-classrooms with full transparency, turning the act of cooking into theatrical play. A technical level has been reserved at mid-height of the tower. The tower is crowned by a double height bar-restaurant that surrounds an outdoor patio in the middle of the square plan, all with a panoramic view over Brussels.



Architects: XDGA Xaveer De Geyter Architects

Location: Brussels, Belgium

Surface: 3300 m2

Year/Status: 2011/built

Materials: Concrete, glass, inox

Project Team:
Competition: Xaveer De Geyter, Henrik Boes Brolling, Lieven De Boeck, Ester Goris, El Hadi Jazairy, David Schmitz | Definitive design: Xaveer De Geyter, Anouk Kuitenbrouwer, Piet Crevits a?i?? Wesley Aelbrecht, Rapha l Cornelis, Fuminori Hoshino, Ingrid Huyghe, Jarrik Ouburg, Olivier Renard, Marie-Pierre Vandeputte, David Van Severen | Implementation: Xaveer De Geyter, Ingrid Huyghe, Rapha l Cornelis a?i?? Piet Crevits

Client: VGC

Restoration Barbara Van Der Wee Architects | Structural engineer: Ney & Partners | Mechanical engineer: Studiebureau Boydens

Photography: Andr Nullens, Frans Parthesius, Strabag


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