Country’s largest passive office building opens at Tour & Taxis

Summary

A distinctive building opened on Brussels’ Tour & Taxis site yesterday, as the region’s environmental agency moved in to Belgium’s largest passive structure

“The toaster”

Belgium’s largest entirely passive office building was inaugurated on Tuesday on the site of Tour & Taxis in Brussels. Fittingly nicknamed “the toaster” because of its unusual shape, the building is the new headquarters of Leefmilieu Brussel, the region’s environmental agency.

The building is centred around an atrium seven storeys high under a rounded, transparent roof that ensures constant natural lighting. The lower two floors feature a visitors’ centre built around environmental themes, an auditorium, a media library, meeting centre and restaurant. The second floor includes a laboratory, and the offices on the upper floors are designed for organisational flexibility, allowing the creation of different kinds of work spaces.

The building, designed by Dutch architect firm Cepezed, achieves an “excellent” on the BREEAM sustainability rating system. It has a relatively small surface and is completely insulated, including triple-glazing which also includes automatic blinds to protect against excessive sunlight in the summer. The atrium is not only architecturally spectacular, reflecting the open square outside, it also captures heat and stores it for recycling.

Leefmilieu Brussel will pay rent of €3.6 million a year for the building – considerably more than the €1.3 million it paid for its previous headquarters in Sint-Lambrechts-Woluwe. The agency will save some €200,000 annually on energy costs, and savings will also be seen on water use and waste collection since the services are all now in one building instead of three as before.

Director Frédéric Fontaine also pointed out that the restaurant will earn money as will the rental of meeting space. The agency will also no longer have to look outside when organising its own events.

photo courtesy Cepezed Architects