Competition proposal: axonometry of the flexible layout for the Manchester site, 2021, Brussels © BC architects, CIVIC, Architecture Workroom Brussels, et al.

Architecture Workroom facilitates the assemblage of various programmes and users for the innovative cultural pole on the Manchestersite in Molenbeek in partnership with the design team A BORD (including BC architects, CIVIC architects), the commissioner (SAU-MSI), the permanent and temporary users (Recyclart, Decoratelier, Vaartkapoen, etc.) and the neighbourhood.


In the coming months, we will contribute to the transformation of this place for artistic events, creative activities and community functions. We will engage with key actors and map out scenarios for future programmes and uses. The aim is to preserve the quality of the site, with its rough character and place for spontaneous activities. The site shows how production in the city, care at the scale of the district and culture as a motor for the district can go hand in hand. Through this case, we are testing which co-creation processes and management montages work here.

The two industrial buildings (Manchesterstraat 13-15 and 17-19), including a former refinery, were purchased by the Brussels Region in 2018 with the aim of repurposing them as a cultural pole. Currently, Recyclart, Decoratelier and the Vaartkapoen are located there, and 12 new, temporary users will soon join them. Charleroi Danse and Cinemaximiliaan are a little further down the street, creating a real cultural ecosystem here.

The site is located near the canal and is part of the Brussels Heyvaert-Poincaré neighbourhood. The urban renewal contract CRU5, which runs until 2025, aims to improve the quality of life by adding public space, integrating soft mobility and promoting affordable housing. The Manchester site itself is organised around two courtyards, which current cultural users already regularly programme with performances. In the design of the team of a.o. BC architects and CIVIC architects, much attention is paid to strengthening and expanding these collective and public spaces, to making the industrial heritage visible and accessible, and a sustainable and to a circular approach to the renovations.

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