When architect Michel Jaspers discovered this full city block, left vacant for decades and fallen into disrepair, he conceived to transform it into what the Espace Jacqmotte is today: probably the first large-scale mixed-use complex in the heart of Brussels. The aim was to provide a mix of functions, thereby fulfilling the needs of various different occupants and visitors.
Within the constraints of the existing urban block in the historic centre of a major European capital, the project involved the careful preservation and restoration of its most authentic elements and classified facades, combined with contemporary additions designed in the spirit of the historic industrial fabric of the area.
Inside the Espace Jacqmotte complex, the more recently added central part of the industrial block was demolished in order to restore the original, open inner courtyard. In addition to providing natural lighting and ventilation to the surrounding compounds, it has now become a landscaped inner garden equipped with a pond — a peaceful and quiet place in which to escape from busy city life.
Espace Jacqmotte takes its name from the initial owner and occupant of the site, the well-known Belgian coffee brand Jacqmotte. Both the 'Maison Jacqmotte' and the production plant were located in the same building, which dates back to 1828. Jacqmotte left the building in the mid-1980s and the entire block was left abandoned for several years. In the early 1990s, architect Michel Jaspers took a special interest in this urban city block and envisioned both its renovation and revival.
The renovated Espace Jacqmotte has been transformed into a mixed-use complex including retail units along the famous Rue Haute, an art gallery, coffee shop, office spaces and a series of luxury apartments, with the penthouse apartment and glass pavilion on top.
The entire renovation took place within the perimeters of the original building and many features relating to its rich history were preserved or enhanced. It is when the doors open, however, that visitors truly discover what the Espace Jacqmotte brings to the Marolles area — a luxuriant green oasis and pond that can be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.
The Marolles district, in the heart of Brussels, has long been known as a lively and popular area. Major changes during the turn of the millennium have transformed the historically lower-class district into a desirable place to live, work and visit. Its complete revival attracts people from various multicultural and international horizons, professions, lifestyles and ages.
A mix of restaurants, bars and antique shops, in addition to the famous nearby marketplaces of the Sablon and Place du Jeu de Balle, are examples of attractions in this vibrant environment.
Espace Jacqmotte is located between the historic city centre and mid-town Brussels. Less than 50 meters (164 feet) away, a public, glass-enclosed elevator gives panoramic views across the city. It also provides access to the gigantic Palais de Justice that formerly separated the Marolles from the wealthier area around the Place Louise.
This new connection has resulted in the interweaving of the two districts — all of the retail, business and entertainment facilities located around the Boulevard de Waterloo, Avenue de la Toison d'Or and Avenue Louise can be reached on foot in under 5 minutes.
This quintessential glass pavilion crowns a spacious apartment at the penthouse-level of Espace Jacqmotte. Photo: Courtesy Jaspers-Eyers & Partners
Looking north at dusk, a courtyard facade of Espace Jacqmotte is topped by the penthouse apartment and glass pavilion. Photo: Courtesy Jaspers-Eyers & Partners
Looking east from the glass pavilion, the inner courtyard of Espace Jacqmotte is below on the right, with the Palais de Justice above on the right. Photo: Courtesy Jaspers-Eyers & Partners
An aerial overview of the Espace Jacqmotte, looking north, shows materials, colors, and massing for the full-block complex that mesh well with its historical neighbors. Photo: Courtesy Jaspers-Eyers & Partners
Visiting design jurors explore the top of the complex. Photo: Kevin Matthews / Artifice Images
The Palais de Justice provides a grand historial backdrop to the minimalist modern pavilion. Photo: Kevin Matthews / Artifice Images
The Brussels city skyline sweeps across a western view from the glass pavilion. Photo: Kevin Matthews / Artifice Images
An earthy red from surrounding clay tile roofs comes from selected project facades onto an interior wall plane, delineating geometry of the pavilion stairway. Photo: Kevin Matthews / Artifice Images
Looking south from the glass pavilion, the inner courtyard of Espace Jacqmotte opens below. Photo: Kevin Matthews / Artifice Images
The penthouse apartment, deck, and pavilion provide complete living, seven stories up. Photo: Courtesy Jaspers-Eyers & Partners
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