The ‘Botanique II’ is part of a larger project called ‘Brussels Capital of Europe’.

A 7 km long city ring will become one green axis with striking architectures that shape the European identity of Brussels.

Plan ‘Brussels Capital of Europe’: Architectural firm Dirk Coopman
Design ‘Botanique II’: Architectenbureau Dirk Coopman
Year: 2014 – 2022
Location: Brussels – Belgium
Photography credits: Woeha studio & Dirk Coopman
Supported by: Situs ‘provider of Spatial qualities’
3D team: Coopman – Ghysbrecht – Van Calster

The Botanique by Architectenbureau Dirk Coopman - Sheet5
©Woeha studio & Dirk Coopman

‘Brussels Capital of Europe’ undertakes to redefine the city center as a European meeting place in order to profile itself as the capital of all Europeans.

From an urban planning point of view, it appears possible to eliminate the small ring road of Brussels, known as the pentagon, from car traffic. A dozen tunnels, each ending in a mega parking lot, provide the idea for this as follows: Brussels has two major ring roads. One at 8 km and one at 1 km from the center. These two heavy infrastructural roads are connected by very busy avenues that unsustainably disrupt the liveability of all the municipalities in between. Tunneling precisely into these avenues frees these peripheral municipalities from this crippling traffic. We will have each of these tunnels – twelve in total – end in mega car parks, which will make the inner ring road free of traffic.

The Botanique by Architectenbureau Dirk Coopman - Sheet7
©Woeha studio & Dirk Coopman

We use the newly obtained topsoil to optimize the public domain and to realize Brussels as the capital of Europe. A green ring with many attractive public spaces aims to provide European urban exemplary design. At the same time, some fifty public buildings are completing these new public spaces. Each of these buildings supports a distinctly European non-administrative function. Just under half of the buildings are school buildings where young people can go to school in their own national language and other European languages. The other buildings are cultural institutions that support the European identity and thus shape Brussels as the capital of all Europeans.

The Botanique by Architectenbureau Dirk Coopman - Sheet9
©Woeha studio & Dirk Coopman

The ‘Botanique II’

The ‘Botanique II’, together with the existing ‘Botanique I’, encloses one large city park.

‘Botanique II’ offers space above its ‘European history museum’ for a multicultural mix of European events and programs that focus on the encounter between European cultural characteristics.

The building’s most special function is its relationship and interaction with the park. After all, ‘Botanique II’ forms a gigantic urban roof where various open-air bars offer the city an attractive meeting place. In addition to increased load-bearing capacity, the braided columns also offer transparency and airiness to the whole. They also envelop and accentuate the open-air bars. Some of the braided columns provide light deep into the many underground parking floors. While retaining the lightness of ‘Brussels lace’, the voluminous body receives many museum and cultural halls, with the outer walls always remaining open with a view of the city. The structure and stability of the cigar-shaped volume is formed by its facade. The rounded facade is the structure. It consists of a thousand and one circles that work together as one stable whole supported by the woven columns. ‘Brussels lace’ in an architectural guise thus lends openness and transparency to a building that wants to function in this way in all its parts.

©Woeha studio & Dirk Coopman

Abstract in the third person:

Dirk Coopman is a professor at the Faculty of Architecture at KU Leuven and manager of his architectural firm of the same name.

Both in his architectural practice and in his academic research, architectural design is linked to urban design with a persistent focus.

There are strong philosophical arguments for advocating urban planning on an architectural scale and for architecture on an urban planning scale.

Removing the division between urban planning and architecture is necessary to bring our cities back to the forefront of cultural production.

Dwelling and living are synonyms, which means that built reality does not tolerate a conceptual and compositional separation between urbanism and architecture, at least not if it wants to be culturally productive.

The separation between architecture and urban planning has an inflationary effect on built reality. It is therefore necessary to give architecture a political dimension. After all, we live in a built reality and it must be qualitative. Architects should therefore enter into a debate and advocate the added value of the unity of urban planning and architecture through proposals.


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