Competition for a new city office, the expansion of the library, a parking and a private development
To be able to serve as a representative and recognizable city heart, the centre of the town of Beringen required a unifying design intervention. The town of Beringen is one of four settlements that merged into the municipality of Beringen, and the development of a civic centre for this young city does not come about as naturally as would be the case for a community with a clear and single historical nucleus. The opportunity to intervene close to the central market square in Beringen arose when a new school campus was established, leaving the Beringen College building next to the market square vacant. A masterplan for the entire vicinity – to which also belong the church of Sint Pieters-Banden and the town library – gives shape to this ambition of forming a civic centre. Programmatically, the centre is charged with the establishment of a new city office, the expansion of the library, a parking and a private development including housing and commercial spaces. In between the buildings, public space is conceptualised as a civic square. By means of clearly recognizable and coherent materialization this square becomes a ground level without thresholds. The civic square enters into a dialogue with the adjacent market square, but clearly remains a separate spatial entity, which is underlined by the stretched new staircase leading up to the church entrance. It is programmed in coherence with the public buildings situated in this area which determine its diverse atmospheres by means of materialization and delimitation. The church and the library are interpreted as solitary elements sited on the civic square. Both have an outspoken public nature, and symbolize cultural transfer and cohabitation. This symbolism is interpreted spatially by removing all thresholds for accessing these buildings, and by integrating them with beautiful patches of green. The library hence is extend with a new volume housing the new entrance. The other new programmes are contained in volumes that complete unfinished building blocks at the site, creating more private outside spaces in the hearts of these building blocks. The former main building of Beringen College is recuperated and extended. This adaptive reuse proposal safeguards the outer brick walls and inserts a new mansard roof in replacement of the original one. A chapel in the building is freed of disruptive, adaptations. Modern interventions, respective of the authentic built elements, restore the spatial experience of the chapel in in accordance with its former quality. The main building is complemented with a new volume that transforms the complex into a closed building block around the former playground of the school. A striking apartment building in its turn complements an unfinished building block facing the town market, determining the spatial experience and orientation of this square.