The ‘Université du Travail’ (UT), founded by Paul Pastur, was built in 1905 by the architects Albert and Alexis Dumont. At the time, the Université du Travail housed grandiose exhibition halls, lit by three large skylights showcasing the technical workmanship, a majestic main hall built of white stone, yellow brick and a mosaic floor, and several teaching rooms and laboratories.
The institute is a manifestation of the industrial influence of the Charleroi region at the dawn of the 20th century. It presents a political message of emerging forces, the face-off between the working class and the bourgeoisie. A unique university for technical and economic education, aimed at training apprentices as well as blue collar and white collar workers.
The building has been listed as a historic monument since 2004 and has the distinctive feature of having been built on the ramparts of the old, fortified town of Charleroi.
A versatile renovation
The transformation of the building involves restoring the unique interior rooms and corridors, which are listed as heritage, renovating the façades to their pristine condition, including the window frames, which are now fitted with high-performance glazing.
The interior spaces have been renovated to support new active teaching methods, with multi-purpose spaces such as the learning centre, classrooms and auditorium.
An innovative and sustainable technical centre has been installed to make the building completely self-sufficient. All building techniques have been upgraded and fire safety was carefully integrated by, amongst others, sprinkler systems hidden in the steel structures and additional structural reinforcements.
A vision of education and research
One of the major challenges of the project is to integrate new research infrastructures within the Zénobe Gramme building, creating an education and research ecosystem that fosters innovation and sustainable developments by bringing together a series of high-level actors with a complementary expertise.
The research centre is considered a tool for physically bringing together researchers, students and industrialists, using shared infrastructures that enable the development of extraordinary technology. In this way, CUZG plays a dynamic role in the creation of knowledge that could help to find effective solutions to major societal issues.
“The Centre Universitaire Zénobe Gramme is the result of a bold approach to programming instigated by a multidisciplinary team with great respect for the history of this emblematic building”.
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