The prestigious Portuguese office Aires Mateus - formed by brothers Manuel and Francisco Aires Mateus - has won a competition to design the new headquarters of the University of Architecture in Tournai, Belgium.
More information on the project, after the break...
By eliminating corridors and wards, forcing people to move within the interior areas, focusing on the creation of public spaces, and making the school a point of connection between two neighborhoods, the Aires Mateus brothers' design responds to the urban center and builds upon the university's pre-existing relationship with the city.
The complex includes an eighteenth century hospital and two early twentieth century industrial buildings. The project requires the demolition of the smallest building and the rehabilitation of the three largest.
The two industrial buildings, characterized by a metal structure and large spaces, will house the classrooms and libraries, while the old hospital will house the administrative services. The building built from scratch will function as a large public space with auditoriums and exhibition areas - acting as the public face of the school.
"What we did with this building was to unite all levels [of the school,] ensuring all vertical and horizontal circulations can occur both within the university and between the plazas," explains Manuel Aires Mateus.
The building thus functions "as both interior space as well as the axis of the entire outer envelope."
The project requires that any new construction highlight the pre-existing characteristics of the historic center, including brick facades and basements made of sandstone:
"We want the building to be as neutral as possible, without disappearing into the background. We are interested in the idea of memory and, above all, we want to treat the architecture not only as a form but primarily as a space. "
The design beat out proposals by Lacaton & Vassal and Robbrecht en Daem.
In 2015 the current campus will be moved to the new university facilities, 10 km from the city center of Tournai. The first phase of construction is estimated to cost four million euros.