Reflecting on history

Wednesday 24 Feb 2010

New educational building on the former coal mining site Winterslag in Belgium

The Media & Design Academy, institution of higher education in audiovisual arts, plastic arts and product design, is part of a new educational and cultural cluster on a former coal mining site and had to be built on top of an existing underground parking garage.

The texture of the façade, a translucent skin in perforated galvanized steel, refers to the molecular structure of coal and enters a dialogue with the historical steel elevator shafts of the coal mine. Notwithstanding a rough industrial approach, the building is not hard: the translucent facade almost looks like lace and expresses a subtle and soft appearance. Next to that it acts as a solar screen and a privacy buffer. Only the glazed parts of the open study-landscape, around which all educational functions are organized, is not covered by the perforated steel skin; in this way the spatially binding central element of the project is expressed in the exterior of the building.

The industrial architectural language is visible in the interior of the building as well. The concrete structure and all the mechanical and technical equipment remain apparent. Light transparent structures act as space dividers that have a minimal presence and provide spatial continuity. In this way the design of the building expresses the mission statement of the school and becomes a genuine "teaching and learning factory".

The Media & Design Academy has been designed with the aim to stimulate creativity and innovation. The study-landscape provides the answer to this need by offering an interactive space for meeting, experiment, social contact and the exchange of ideas between all students and teachers, so that the circulation zones within the school become an important part of the didactic environment.

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