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This time a bank building from Brussels, Belgium. It is one of the best examples of modernist architecture and one of the best known in the area (if you ask design related locals to recommend nice modernist building this will be the one).

Modernist bank building in Broekstraat 1

Prefabricated concrete pieces mounted together with the help of metal pieces and tension cables, make an intricate façade. The building looks contemporary enough, some designers nowadays copy the style, however the level of detailing and quality of execution is difficult to match. I can hardly imagine what building, built in recent years, will be looking at least ok, 50 years down the road.

Modernist bank building in Broekstraat 2

Very sculptural corner detail:

 Modernist bank building in Broekstraat 3

The building is in a very good condition, my guess is that concrete façade must have been cleaned-up recently.

Modernist bank building in Broekstraat 4

View from the street, Brussels as a permanent construction site (changes for the better, thought) :

Modernist bank building in Broekstraat 5

However and sadly my on-line search could not retrieve any information about the building nor who designed it. It would be great if anyone from the readers could tell me, if they happen to possess such information.

The Music Academy MWD (Academie voor muziek, woord en dans Dil’arte) in Dilbeek, just out of Brussels city limits to the north west in the Flemish area of Belgium.

One of the most spectacular buildings I ever had a chance to see and visit! Designed by a Spanish architect Carlos Arroyo, with some Belgian members on the team. Construction finished and the building was opened for use in September 2012, competition won in 2007.

Generally this building seems to be a bit over the top, a dominant in the distance, precisely detailed, well sculptured shape, plenty of symbolism in the design and even with dynamic qualities as it changes from different angles!

Amazing cantilevered music academy MWD in Dilbeek

The building changes as you move along the façade: from the front, at a slight angle a forest is visible, then slowly more colours appear, and when you look back the building suddenly becomes different variations of blue. I love that the façade is on permanent summer, even if reality around it is Belgium winter. The forest pictured is Wolfsputten, a protected area of natural forest located just at the back of the plot.

Amazing cantilevered music academy MWD in Dilbeek 1 Amazing cantilevered music academy MWD in Dilbeek 2 Amazing cantilevered music academy MWD in Dilbeek 3 Amazing cantilevered music academy MWD in Dilbeek 4 Amazing cantilevered music academy MWD in Dilbeek 5 Amazing cantilevered music academy MWD in Dilbeek 6I cannot shake off the idea of cycling back and forth many times and watching this façade changing.

Amazing cantilevered music academy MWD in Dilbeek 7 Amazing cantilevered music academy MWD in Dilbeek 8 Amazing cantilevered music academy MWD in Dilbeek 9 Amazing cantilevered music academy MWD in Dilbeek 10

Architect himself clams that the idea behind the coloured louvres was influenced and designed as a piece of music (Canon for 36 voices by Johannes Ockeghem). Without knowing the fact the building is definitely very entertaining to look at, and personally I see more straight forward associations: the vertical panel pieces look like piano keys.

The back façade is interesting just by it’s form alone and the length and shape of the cantilever is just amazing!

Amazing cantilevered music academy MWD in Dilbeek 11 Amazing cantilevered music academy MWD in Dilbeek 12 Amazing cantilevered music academy MWD in Dilbeek 13

At the same time the building stands out and blends in with the surroundings :

dilbeek MWD 07

dilbeek MWD 08

Despite the welcoming text in the official website my colleague and I were kicked out of the building! On the front page they say: “Welcome, young and old” , original text in NL. “Jong en oud zijn welkom in de academie voor muziek”. But beware, in reality the staff is not welcoming at all!

I took about one hundred photos from outside and walked in two steps to the main lobby and while I tried to adjust the camera settings for the different light conditions, a man rushed to me telling to leave as he repeated in few languages that “this is not a public building”. So here are the two pictures I managed to take before the incident:

academie dilbeek interior 1

academie dilbeek interior 2

Should I have been asked of my reason to be there, or should the website say “open only for students”, or should at least an entrance door tell “no photos”, or is their welcoming text only a bad joke? Well that was a bitter experience I did not expect and a first time ever to be kicked out of a building on my architectural journey around the world. Just to mention: there were no students to be seen (only few staff members in the distance), if the concern was somebody’s privacy.

The nearby building says: “Dilbeek waar Vlamingen THUIS zinjn…”, in English it would be “Dilbeek is a HOME for the Flemish…” Maybe the whole problem was that I am not one of them?

Amazing cantilevered music academy MWD in Dilbeek 14

Currently used as a headquarters for a Dexia bank, this building marks the great times of Brussels architecture. Designed and build in 1969, it features some well executed details. Most people nowadays would probably call it ugly. Surely this is not the only of the type or the most spectacular office building of the region, but it shows the period and is a living example of  the true spirit of Brussels – the endless bureaucracy (fr. bureau + gr. κράτος kratos – rule or power).

Click image to enlarge

And still as a bank building of the 60’s it still looks good and contemporary enough nowadays. I especially like the decorative façade, which stands a bit away from the structure and the windows. This type of solution gives some architectural play – the slightly sculptural window patterns cast  shadows on the tinted windows as if putting some lace on the office box.

This building is 13 stories high and it is 56 meters.

One more cantilever building, this time form Belgium, small university town Leuven. It is situated next to Martelarenplein , what is on the left hand side from the main railway station.

Architects of the building are Crépain Binst architecture and ARCHI + 1.

click to enlarge

This local branch bank insurance building is rather impossible to miss due to it’s amazing cantilever. The structure is well hidden so that the building looks close to impossible to be built.

The cantilever in this case even works as a public shelter, it is neat new and protects you against rain. As you can see in the photos-people do hang around it.

And again, as I have mentioned in my previous post, this building in reality looks much better than in presentation drawings of an architect: good architecture is not about renders!

The shiny façade finish (at least on a sunny day!) was the element what attracted me to this building, since dominating shades in the city are rather grey. Upon closer inspection it is obvious, that the façade is well detailed, especially the corners are neat.

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However I must express a doubt about operable exterior blinds: Brussels is dusty city, therefore the blinds are going to be very dirty in a matter of few months.

This buildings has an inner enclosed courtyard.

On the very bottom right photo a booth for garage parking-meter is photographed.

Extension and renovation building in Rue de Belgrade, Brussels.

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Some more contemporary architecture from Brussels, well hidden, as usual. Street façade and street view.

The building is located not very far from MIdi train station and it is just next to the tram depot – that is the massive brick building on the left of the street view.

Renovation and extension of former industrial building. at Zennestraat/Rue de la Senne, current function: apartments. Designed by Vanhaerents and Lhoas & Lhoas Architectes.

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The sign on the corner is a poetic reminder  that the street once was a river (Zenne street is named after the river that once used to flow here, but has long been running underground). This building asks “Cry Me A River” and New York New Museum of Contemporary Art responds: “Hell, Yes!“.

Colourful balconies give nice reflections to the buildings across the street on a sunny day. This project became one of the first revival signs of the still rather run-down neighbourhood.

Buurthuis / maison de quartier at Nijverheidskaai / Quai de L’Industrie street:

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This community building happens to be on my favourite cycling route in Brussels, next to the canal. The best on the route!
Between a social housing block, and a chop-shop (and I always get talked to!).

Extension and renovation building in Rue du Peuplier, Brussels.

click to enlarge

This was photographed during unusually sunny summer of 2011, hopefully this snow white building looks as good against more common grey sky too.
I did not succeed to find who designed the building nor any other photos of the project on the Internet. If you happen to know the architect’s name I would be more than happy to add this information.

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