Brussels RTBF/VRT site, a media city in the making and a new identity for a district between the centre and the airport.
The RTBF/VRT complex, with its iconic tower, sits just at the beginning of the main road to the airport. The complex is now to be redeveloped as the infrastructures are over 40 years old and no longer suitable for the operations of modern broadcasting companies. Emmanuel Robben, RTBF Facilities Director, explains that the RTBF and VRT (who share the complex 50/50) are the only European broadcasters still to be in such old premises. The redevelopment plans for the site have been somewhat hampered by uncertainty about the future plans of the VRT. But in April 2014, it decided it would stay on the site, but in a new building. The first plans, which included a large park open to the public, therefore had to be abandoned. As Emmanuel Robben points out, it wouldn’t have been feasible for the RTBF to take on the whole of the main large rectangular building fronting onto the Boulevard Reyers, so the decision was taken to build a new broadcasting centre on the site for the RTBF too. “It is logical”, he says, “that two broadcasters would come to similar decisions”.
There is now a new guideline plan for the complex, which at this stage is no more than that, awaiting a true masterplan. It schedules a total of 425,000 to 450,000 m², to be approximately divided as follows: 55% for housing, 30% for the RTBF, 10% retail and 5% for common equipment. There will be a park, and the objective is to create a ‘village’ atmosphere and a media city on the site. The tower will be retained. Emmanuel Robben emphasises that the RTBF does not intend to become a real estate developer, and so the buildings themselves would not be owned by the company. He also expects a masterplan to take around two to three years. During the summer, and before the change of governments and of regulatory bodies, the large-scale ‘Reyers’ project took a further step forward. The latest movement in this project involves the designation of a winning consortium to design the project, from four finalist candidate teams. This number had already been filtered down from the 14 candidates which responded to the call for tenders by the Territorial Development Agency (ADT), acting for the Region. The winning candidate is a team comprising: Agence François Leclerq of Paris, Brussels architectural agency BOB 361, Barcelona-based Espinas I Tarraso, Spanish media company NATEX, Belgian urban planning agency BUUR, along with study bureaux CITEC, Alphaville, Transsolar and Mageo Morel Associés.