IMAL Center
by CENTRAL

This former factory situated along the canals of Brussels was what later became the Center for Arts, Sciences, Technology, Innovation and Inclusion.

Situated in Molenbeek, the center proposes a double orientation: an international art center oriented towards the future of arts and an inclusive space anchored in its neighbourhood, offering socially-oriented educational programs.

CENTRAL proposed to design the center as a public machine which directly addresses its activity on the public space.

The project is the result of an Invitational competition for the renovation of the Digital Art Center of Brussels

It is designed as an art center that will define its identity by its functioning, spatiality, and its activities, a contemporary “palace” for all. More concretely, this ambition is only possible through a strategic attitude with respect to the economics of the project.

This center is designed as a public machine which directly addresses its activity at a public level.

The existing architectural quality of the site required only a light intervention to reveal its real quality.

In this sense, it seems essential to concentrate resources towards specific aspects of the project in order to guarantee the technical and architectural performances necessary for a good synergy between the various constituent elements of the center.

Different architectural elements are carefully designed and crafted creating a clear distinction between the existing and the new. First, it is the entire facade on the ground floor that is generously opened to the street and the canal.

The latter opens completely, offering a hitherto non-existent porosity, and allows public space to occupy part of the building, thus addressing a manifested dimension in the relationship between production and integration at the neighbourhood level.

Then, part of the existing concrete slabs are cut in order to insert a light, autonomous, metal structure. A stained concrete staircase is inserted between the different levels and is partially hidden behind the aviary-like structure.

It submits a new language, differentiated from the existing one, sometimes appearing opaque, sometimes transparent, depending on the different light sources.

Finally, a series of glazing slides is introduced into the upper levels in order to guarantee closed spaces and reduce noise pollution, while ensuring full transparency of activities. For CENTRAL, the new configuration of iMAL embodies a form of exemplarity.

“Today, more than ever, the questions of renovation and rehabilitation are at the heart of reflections that face changing paradigms, where ‘making with the existing’ is a keyword and where ingenuity serves a form of authenticity.”

The center was imagined by the architects as a building in constant boiling, with each part of its programme being specifically defined but importance given to the relationship that the different functions create between each other.

For CENTRAL, one of the challenges was to bring together exhibition areas, a FabLab and educational spaces on 3 floors totally separated in the beginning.

Authors CENTRAL in collaboration with NP2F
Location Brussels, Belgium
Year 2017-20
Surface 2100 sqm
Budget 1.100.000€ + taxes
Photography Maxime Delvaux

Non-autonomous architecture EUROPA ACTE Evergreen School Azatlyk Square Bang Nong Saeng Kindergarten VDC Naidi Community Hall

a project powered by Itinerant Office

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