UNStudio and Ben van Berkel complete first Belgium project

Dutch architect Ben van Berkel and UnStudio have completed a mixed-use building block in Brussels.

Le Toison d’Or contains 72 apartments (from 50 to 750 m²), 13,000 m² of commercial space, a 1040 m² day care centre, 330 parking spaces and an elevated city garden of 2,950 m².

The facade of Le Toison d’Or is broken up by means of variations in texture, depth and the repeating rhythm of a series of curved vertical frames.

Ben van Berkel explained:

“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.”

The apartments in Le Toison d’Or vary in size from small to large, enabling a varied demographic of city residents. To ensure high levels of daylight in the interiors, the floor to ceiling heights reach at least 2.7m in living areas and over 3m for the apartments situated along the Avenue de la Toison d’Or.

Ben van Berkel added:

“It was important that the retail units be as open and light as possible. We wanted to contrast this with the apparent solidity of the upper floors, to create the illusion that the vertical balloon-like frames were carrying the building; as if the whole block almost has the potential to float above the avenue.”

The building has been developed to high standards of sustainability with thermic isolation of the facade, acoustic insulation, an inventive cogeneration installation system for both the apartments and the retail units and the use of glass-fiber reinforced concrete.