BURO II & ARCHI+I unveil accessible centre to nurture young minds in Belgium
The new centre for youth and culture right next to the station in Ypres aspires primarily to be an informal meeting place for all ages and nationalities, an objective that pays tribute to the city’s tradition as a tolerant city of peace. The recent disappearance of the cattle market has freed up space for a use which will impart a new momentum to the area, both by day and by night.
The programme offers a unique synergy between public and private functions: bringing together a cultural centre (CCI), the youth meeting centre (JOC) and the centre for educational projects and activities (ARGOS). The public and the private areas have been clearly divided. Access to the cultural centre will be from the new station forecourt under construction, where it will also come into its own in the evenings.
The large hall (with capacity for 554 people) - the only functional space that needs no daylight - is at the heart of the building. It became a sort of ‘box-within-a-box’ - detached acoustically from the rest of the building. By the use of special techniques, it can serve equally well as a theatre or a concert hall, a unique combination that makes a broad range of programming possible. All support functions are positioned in a U-shape around the hall and look out over the surroundings.
A special place was reserved for the concrete staircase sculpture that connects all the functional areas with each other. Both the bar and foyer have an outdoor terrace with stunning views of the station and city centre. The party and concert hall for the youths can accommodate 500 enthusiasts.
The structure was fabricated in precast concrete. To some parts, a hybrid second façade has been added, which also serves as a sunscreen. When it ages, the copper gauze will acquire a characteristic soft green patina. A walkway between the two façades makes maintenance practical. The interior design is unpretentious and stripped of all frills and excess. The hall and the self-designed seats are executed in bright red to symbolise the beating cultural heart of Ypres.