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Connecting and gathering

Before the project, over 20,000 pedestrians and cyclists were faced with a daily obstacle course: an elevation of 8 metres to get out of the tunnel under the tracks before crossing the Martelaren avenue, then a downward slope of 3 metres to arrive on the other side. Hence, as a starting point for our project, we imagined two public places, including one reaching the level of the underground tunnel beneath the train tracks. Today, this tunnel leads to a large, gentle slope going up to the avenue, changing the image of the passageway from an unwelcoming tunnel to an integral and animated part of the urban space.

Besides, this setting has allowed the development of commercial spaces located on the inferior levels of the complex without raising the overall size of the buildings, thus ensuring the rational and sustainable use of urban space. This commercial development also made it possible to finance new bridges and walkways, strengthening the links between neighbourhoods located on either side of the train station.

The new public place linking the underground tunnel with the avenue

A strong architectural response

The project needed to offer a strong architectural response to a challenging multifunctional programme, uniting public and private, commercial and residential. The concept we have developed, in collaboration with SeARCH architects, brings this 76,000 m² site to life through a clever mix of different entities, based on a common public base.

The mixed-use programme includes hotels, lodgings, offices, and retail/catering, as well as adding car and bicycle parking opposite Leuven train station. Each building has been carefully thought through to maximise sunshine and views. We have also used distinct facades to give each building its own identity and bring them together in a harmonious scale within the city.

A sustainable urban vision

The Kop van Kessel-Lo project brings together a harmonious blend of comfortable living, productive work and contemporary mobility on a coherent urban site, seamlessly integrating the busy passenger traffic of a major city station.

We developed the whole project with a sustainable design approach, focused on soft mobility. To support this we included differentiated management of bicycle and foot traffic, and provided specific equipment such as bicycle parking. An overarching theme across the development of different buildings has been the pursuit of ambitious energy goals. As a result, the EXOS office building has obtained the BREEAM “VERY GOOD” certification.

Kop van Kessel-Lo brings together a harmonious blend of comfortable living, productive work and future mobility on a coherent urban site.

Kris Loix architect, executive partner

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