Robbrecht en Daem + MJos Van Hee – Market Hall & Central Squares, 2012


Robbrecht en Daem architecten:
MJos Van Hee architecten:

Exercise in Renaissance

Following two demolition campaigns for a world exhibition in 1913 and an administrative centre never built in the 60s, Ghent s historic heart degenerated for decades into a desolate parking lot in between a suite of three adjoining Gothic towers. In two consecutive competitions between 1996 and 2005, Robbrecht en Daemarchitecten and MJos Van Hee architects proposed their own programme, countering the initial competition requirement. Rather than just providing an open space for events, they sought, by meticulously positioning a market hall, to rectify this deficiency and reinstate the presence of old urban areas that had become unrecognisable.

The building positions itself between Poeljemarkt, Goudenleeuwplein, and a new lower ai???green connecting to the ai???brasserie , bicycle park and public toilets below the hall. And although the building clearly occupies a position on the 24,000m2 site, it fits in well. Compared to St. Nicholas Church, Belfry and Cathedral, it assumes the heights of a lower group of buildings such as the adjacent town hall, from which it derives, mathematically, its profile.

As an urban interior, the inside embraces the passer-by with a dual modulated wooden ceiling, whose small windows scatter light inwards. The exterior, the entire building in fact, seems to assume a respectful role relative to the nobler historic stone buildings, by using a wooden, almost humble, finish. A glass envelope protects the wood and provides a soft shine, with the sky reflected, integrated.

Large buffer basins to absorb rainwater, principles of low energy consumption for the brasserie, use of truly natural materials, the contribution of public transport and a clear vision about giving new value to the historic centre with its old spatial structures, are just parts that broadly flesh out ai???sustainability for the future. The centre of Ghent will again become a social spot for people.



Architects: Robbrecht en Daem architecten and MJos Van Hee architecten

Location: Gent, Belgium

Surface: Market Hall: 625 m2 | Lower Level: 1.400 m2 | Public Space: 30.000 m2

Year/Status: 2012/built

Structure: Reinforced concrete + steel

Materials: Concrete, wood, steel, glass

Project Team: Paul Robbrecht, Hilde Daem, Johannes Robbrecht, MJos Van Hee, Bert Callens (project-architect), Wim Menten (project-architect), Jan Baes, Tom Broes, Katrien Cammers, Axel Clissen, Mattias Deboutte, Petra Decouttere, Arne Deruyter, Linde Everaerd, Trice Hofkens, Gert Jansseune, Dani l Libens, Carmen Osten, Filip Reumers, Sofie Reynaert, Miriam Rohde, MarilA? Sicoli, Gert Swolfs, Pieter Vanderhoydonck, Kathy Vermeeren, Caroline Voet, Wim Walschap

Client/Contractor: City of Ghent, TMVW, VVM De Lijn

Structural engineering: BAS | Technical installations: Boydens engineering | Landscape architect: Wirtz International | Infrastructure: Technum

Photography: Bert Callens | Photo by Marc De Blieck Robbrecht en Daem architecten


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