Port Sud signals canal zone start-point
The ceremonial ‘laying of the first brick’ ceremony which took place on Friday in the ‘Port Sud’ building on the canal-side, - to be named COOP- was indeed more than just a ceremony. As Brussels Region Minister-President Rudy Vervoort pointed out, it signalled the start of the revitalisation of the entire canal zone. He explained the importance of this project for the district and praised the philosophy of the developers and architects, who were bringing the history of the building and its future harmoniously together. Rudy Vervoort also referred to this project as a prototype for the whole canal zone. This zone would provide an extra 25,000 apartments by 2025 among other functions, he explained, and the desire is to make this district ‘connected’ to the rest of the city.
Taking up this last point, Anderlecht Mayor Eric Tomas said the intention was to build a walkway across the canal to help achieve this connection.
This particular project will accommodate a zone for around fifteen small and medium enterprises in an area of around 3,000 m², along with a cultural ‘interpretation/discovery centre’ for the canal zone . It is also intended that part of the SME activity will involve an activity centred around the repair and maintenance of wooden boats. To this end, a number of marine associations are also concerned, and there is a boat outside the front door.
Architects Bogdan & Van Broeck talk of an evolving space rather than just a fixed building. Their description reads as follows: ‘The two existing buildings are stripped and used as large flexible containers. In between the two – within a ‘light architecture’ shell – all the ancillary functions are inserted: stairs, elevators, technical areas etc.’ The new project will also feature a ground floor reception area and a roof garden.
The former mill has had a number of uses during it history, the most recent of which caused a rather unusual problem for the development team: how to get rid of 40,000 car and truck tyres left inside by the last occupants… But the challenge was met, and Port Sud is set top open as early as next year.