Environment Agency

Designed by Dutch practice Architectenbureau Cepezed on one of Brussels major urban regeneration sites, the Environment Agency is the Europe’s largest entirely passive office building.

Architectenbureau Cepezed, Brussels Environment Agency, Belgio
Europe’s largest entirely passive office building was inaugurated last January on one of Brussels major urban regeneration sites called Tour & Taxis on the inland port’s quayside.
This area owes its original name to the founders of the Belgian postal system, the Von Thurn und Tassis family. Once a major freight hub at the end of C19th with both waterway and railway facilities, Tour & Taxis is set to become today a model of sustainable urban regeneration that will attract the population back towards the canal quayside.
Architectenbureau Cepezed, Brussels Environment Agency, Belgio
Architectenbureau Cepezed, Brussels Environment Agency, Belgium
To set this major urban scheme on the right footing the Brussels region decided to launch a flagship project by locating the new headquarters of the Brussels Environment Agency on the Tour & Taxis site. The powerful, easily recognizable design of the new building acts an icon to mark the launch of this new sustainable neighbourhood programme. With its bulging dark roof the building was quickly nicknamed “the toaster”.
These new offices are built around a central atrium that spans seven storeys high under a bulging, transparent roof that ensures constant natural lighting. The external aluminium cladding of the building is black to absorb the sunlight.
Architectenbureau Cepezed, Brussels Environment Agency, Belgio
Architectenbureau Cepezed, Brussels Environment Agency, Belgium
The large open space of the ground floor with its oval information desk acts as a link with the adjacent square and will host a permanent exhibition on the major environmental challenges facing 21st century cities from 2016. The main staircase runs around the central atrium and dovetails into a series of open balconies overlooking the atrium from the different floor levels. This large wooden staircase is, in fact, an extension of the bleachers in the adjacent auditorium, located on the west side of the building. A restaurant conveniently located on the first floor and overlooking the central atrium, serves food both for the agency’s staff and for the general public. The upper floors include a laboratory and open-plan offices allowing a lot of flexibility to organise work spaces. The top floors are bathed in natural daylight and provide striking views of the Brussels’ skyline.
Some 900 sqm of wooden screens designed by Nathalie Daele, the agency’s in-house architect, are disseminated throughout the different floor levels. Manufactured in American cherry they help to organise the different work spaces in this largely open-plan office layout. The rich, warm tones of cherry stand out very effectively against the plain white and light grey tones of the concrete floors and ceilings. The wooden screens bring into the building a natural element that acts as a thread line on the different floor levels.

Brussels Environment Agency, Belgium
Program: office building
Architects: Architectenbureau Cepezed
Locas architects: Philippe Samyn and Partners
Building technical control office: SECO
Building physics and sustainable design: DGMR
Civil Engineers: Ingenieursbureau SmitWesterman - Ingenieursbureau Meijer bvba
Electrical engineering & HVAC: Flow Tech International
General building contractor: Van Laere. NV
Wooden screens: Jansen Finishings
Hardwood importer: Martal (AHEC)
Budget: € 50 million
Area: 19,690 sqm
Completion: 2014

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