Market Hall, Ghent by Robbrecht en Daem

The civic cultural value of the old city.

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Appreciation towards Robbrecht en Daem for providing the following description:

崭新矗立于历史城区中心,外表如变色龙不断改变,波光粼粼反射周围教堂和景致的开放公园般的市场。这个市场及其周边用地总体规划如此别开生面,从竞赛中脱颖而出并完全颠覆了竞赛的规则,被取消后因得到市民支持重新归于荣耀,得到实施。这个项目在城市中彰显了力量,带给人们不一般的空间想象,激发全新未来。老城中非同小可的公民文化价值体。

Ghent’s historic urban realm assumes a new resonance through this thoughtful proposition about civic culture / MARKET VALUES/
‘Conceived of as a light folded timber roof, protected by bespoke cathedral glass shingles, the roof ’s scaly surface reflects and catches the light. Chameleon-like,it constantly changes its appearance’
‘Feeling that parking was the last thing needed, the team countered with a proposal for a park, together with an enclosed volume for staging events. This non-compliant entry led to their disqualification from the competition’
‘This project demonstrates the power of engaging in one’s own city, bringing locally-attuned spatial imagination to make propositions about a positive future’

▼Photos by Marc De Blieck © Robbrecht en Daem architecten

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贝尔福堡是比利时根特市里被评为世界文化遗产的建筑。在这个商业时代,贝尔福堡旁边的广场需要开发,为城市中心注入新的活力。整个区域沿着街道布置着好几个广场片区,地面是统一的深色玄武岩铺装,形成整体感。广场片区间点缀着一些艺术品。规划十分灵活的与周边的交通设施接壤。本案主要介绍的开放市场就位于其中最大的场地,即市政厅,教堂及其绿地以及贝尔福堡之间的不规则地带。建筑师营造了一个全新的公共结构,它有着闪闪发光的折面屋顶,屋顶上的鳞片玻璃折射着光,使其像变色龙般变幻莫测,数以百计的矩形钢管穿透屋顶,在白天引入阳光,到了夜晚,又透过建筑明亮的内部光源。整个大厅屋顶的折面不对称,同时又有些契合附近建筑们坡屋顶的造型。建筑的基础就像桥墩从地面冒出,将屋顶撑起,实现一个地面完全开放的状况。这里可以容纳各种各样的活动。与教堂绿地接壤的一侧,向下发展,利用地形设置一个带有室外露台可以观赏绿地景色的咖啡厅。整个区域可以灵活使用,容纳不同的活动。这里充满活力的魅力在7月的两个星期中就吸引了超过200万人次参观,变成了欧洲最大公共集会区。整个项目得到了欧盟和比利时政府的支持,低成本却最大化造福城市。这是一个充满智慧结晶的自信而谦虚的优秀项目,有着不一样的力量,为人们带来不同的感受和对未来的期盼。如此优雅的回避了保守城市中心形象,成为市民心中的自豪。

Following two demolition campaigns for a world exhibition in 1913 and an administrative centre never built in the 60s, Ghent’s historic heart degenerated for decades into a desolate parking lot in between a suite of three adjoining Gothic towers. In two consecutive competi- tions between 1996 and 2005, Robbrecht en Daem architecten and MJosé Van Hee architects proposed their own programme, countering the initial competition requirement. Rather than just providing an open space for events, they sought, by meticulously positioning a market hall, to rectify this deficiency and reinstate the presence of old urban areas that had become unrecognisable.The building positions itself between Poeljemarkt, Goudenleeuwplein, and a new lower‘green’ connecting to the ‘brasserie’, bicycle park and public toilets below the hall. And although the building clearly occupies a position on the 24,000m2 site, it fits in well. Com- pared to St. Nicholas Church, Belfry and Cathedral, it assumes the heights of a lower group of buildings such as the adjacent town hall, from which it derives, mathematically, its profile.

As an urban interior, the inside embraces the passer-by with a dual modulated wooden ceiling, whose small windows scatter light inwards. The exterior, the entire building in fact, seems to assume a respectful role relative to the nobler historic stone buildings, by using a wooden, almost humble, finish. A glass envelope protects the wood and provides a soft shine, with the sky reflected, integrated.Large buffer basins to absorb rainwater, principles of low energy consumption for the bras- serie, use of truly natural materials, the contribution of public transport and a clear vision about giving new value to the historic centre with its old spatial structures, are just parts that broadly flesh out ‘sustainability’ for the future. The centre of Ghent will again become a social spot for people.

▼Photos by Marc De Blieck © Robbrecht en Daem architecten

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From its castle to the belfort − its World Heritage-listed belfry − Ghent has at hand everything needed to contemplate the evolution of the Northern european merchant city. as the uNeSCO listing notes, the building typology of the belfry emerged as a sign of a developed post-feudal mercantile culture. In this respect it vied with the castle and the bell tower as symbols of seigneurial and church power respectively, and was itself eventually supplanted by the more expansive typology of the hôtel de ville in representing the independence and power of a city.The markets of Ghent, controlled by powerful guilds and aldermen from this mercantile period on, developed at its heart a highly differentiated hierarchy of urban spaces. These spaces have suffered over the last century, but are about to regain their urban resonance through a remarkable project to re-energise the city centre.In his essay, ‘energy & Matter’,adam Caruso describes the intention of Caruso St John’s public realm project in Stortorget, Sweden: ‘before pavements, kerbs and roads, the linear ordering of the stones was a continuous field up to and around the surrounding buildings. The new design attempts to expand the potential of the square by returning. Stortorget to a kind of origin and emptiness once held by the undifferentiated space of the field.’ Caruso goes on to contrast thisapproach with received conservation practice which would be to retain and articulate the various layers of historical use.In the centre of Ghent, this play between abstraction and figuration of its public spaces began over a century ago, driven by the emergent twins, tourism and conservation practice. at the beginning of the 20th century, the three paradigmatic structures of the city − St bavo’s Cathedral (containing the Van eycks’ Adoration of the Mystic Lamb), the belfry and St Nicholas’s Church − were cut free from the accretions that cemented them into the city fabric, critically described in the words of oneearly guidebook writer as being ‘… like barnacles upon a stately ship’.In this process of editing, these civic buildings became monuments − like boulders in an erratic field − made explicit in the terms established by Baedeker 4 and the emerging tourist industry. at about the same time, the careful differentiation of the various pleins around the monuments by trade, in particular markets (the Korenmarkt, the Poeljesmarkt), was diminished, then lost. In the 1960s the situation was exacerbated by the demolition of another city block for an extension of the town hall: a plan which failed to materialise. The undifferentiated, leftover space between monuments was then used for parking.

Into this slow urban drama came local practitioners, robbrecht en Daem and Marie-José van Hee. In 1996 the two practices (who share a studio, and have a 22-year history of collaboration), entered a competition organised by the city authorities to create an underground car park beside the town hall with a public square on top − the sort of project that was ubiquitous across europe at that time. Feeling that parking was the last thing needed in the strange slack space resulting from clearance (and indeed, would directly contradict the city’s own plans to push traffic out of Ghent’s central public spaces), the team countered with a proposal for a park, together with an enclosed volume for staging events. This non-compliant entry led to their disqualification.

▼草图,建筑与城市关系。Sketch showing the relationship of the new building to its urban context. © Robbrecht en Daem architecten 

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The winning project, once publicised, proved hugely controversial, sparking a rare public referendum in protest and ultimately forcing the city to abandon its plans.The centre of Ghent remained neglected space.by 1998, the city administration realised the ironic situation that the lacuna that had been created in its centre was actually antithetical to the city’s burgeoning role as a tourist destination.another competition was instigated, this time effectively adopting the brief established by robbrecht en Daem and van Hee’s earlier entry. The collaboration eventually won this second competition: a victory coinciding with the establishment of a more sophisticated city administration, and a more receptive architectural culture across Flanders.

From this slow burn of 16 years has emerged an extraordinary project in two parts: the first involving the direction of the spatial coherence of the central squares of Ghent, and the second, the establishment of a new permanent market hall structure. This dramatic new addition acts to repair the damage of the last century, while making a wholly contemporary proposition about Ghent’s civic culture in the 21st century.For the wider public realm project, the architects have taken charge of the sequence of squares (comprising the Korenmarkt, the braunplein, the Poeljesmarkt and Gouden Leeuwplein) running from St Nicholas’s bridge (under which they have created a cycle park) to the east, comprising the main tourist itinerary of Ghent.Paul robbrecht talks about the establishment of a landscape sequence, with interspersed ‘mineral’ and green spaces, from the Korenmarkt through a new ‘Green’ at the east end of St Nicholas’s Church, to the stony precincts of the belfry and cathedral through to the green space of Limburgstraat. In the new Green, excavated to a storey below the braunplein, the grass runs up to and around the apse of the church in the english manner.

Robbrecht en Daem and van Hee are also curating a series of public art works to further articulate this urban sequence, relocating to the Green a fountain by the influential Ghent sculptor Georges Minne, and directing the commissioning of two new vertical art works in the Korenmarkt. Further east, by the cathedral, a rather bombastic monument to the van eycks is to be ‘corrected’ with a new piece by the artist berlinde de bruyckere.

A layer of dark basalt establishes a datum, integrating people’s movements from the tram stops and negotiating level changes and places to sit and to meet. The powerful De Lijn company, who run the trams, has been prevailed upon to accept some spatialintegration of their system − usually deployed with a transport engineer’s pragmatism and concern for the generic over the particular.
baise
▼bais草图,建筑与城市关系。

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The new basalt layer floods the space and serves to emphasise continuity, playing down detail, such as tramline clutter, to form a ground plane on which the monuments are presented. To this ‘carpet’ has been added a new urban character − the market hall, which conversely acts as an engine of differentiation, choreographing a dynamic play between the various squares. This open- sided structure retains remarkable continuity with the original competition in terms of its conception. From that time it has evolved through very careful iteration and adjustment, continuing from the first model through to work on site 16 years later.

Conceived of as a light folded timber roof, protected by bespoke ‘cathedralglass’ shingles, the scaly surface of the roof reflects and catches the light. Chameleon-like, it constantly changes its appearance. Hundredsof rectangular pipes pierce the roof construction, lighting the hall’s interior by day, and shining out at night when the hall is internally lit. The shingles add an important scale and pattern to the surface, belying the scale of the roof and referencing the surrounding decorative use of brick and tile, as well as the weathered stone of the neighbouring historic monuments.The market hall is simultaneously contemporary in terms of its materiality and form, and yet grounded in its place. It draws obliquely on Ghent typologies: the great roof of the 15th-century Groot Vleeshuis (butchers’ hall), for example, or the city’s evident love of craft, pattern and texture. These references combine to make a figure which is of sufficient strength to participate with the cast of other monuments, and in finding this poised, rather awkward character, it restores the differentiation to the various spaces that had been stripped out over the last century.The structure − described by robbrecht as resembling a folded piece of paper set on four great feet − has a disarming directness, recalling the matter-of-fact placement of the Victorian railway viaduct piers that he much admired in Newcastle. The hall roof spans these piers and acts like a giant spirit level, against which the subtle topography of the surrounding squares may be read. The giant piers contain key services to support various events − one contains a lift to the level below, and one a great fireplace with its chimney.

The volume is highly dynamic, adopting an asymmetry found in the gables of other surrounding buildings. The hall appears sometimes as a piece of infrastructure − its 40-metre span resembling a bridge − and sometimes in super-domestic mode: its gable end seen, for instance, as the picturesque termination of a medieval alley. Its ability to swap between these registers is remarkable: the hall is simultaneously house-like, with its fireplace and domestic decorative motifs, and yet the scale of its civic works indicates that it is also operating at the urban level − at a horizontal scale equivalent to the belfry’s imposing symbolic verticality or the massive outworks of a castle. beneath the market hall is formed a south-facing cave, at the lowest level of the Green, which accommodates another cycle park and a Grand Café with a broad terrace. To the west, abutting the church, is a new bell tower which also encloses a bike lift.

The hall will clearly be used intensively, programmed by the city for numerous events, using the spaces it creates in different combinations. Ghent has a vibrant street culture, culminating in the Gentse Feesten, one of the biggest public gatherings in europe with over two million visitors over a fortnight in July. The project cost €12m, drawing on state and eu funding. It’s hard to see how the city could benefit more from this investment. It has engaged the intelligence and care of some of its best architects, and in doing so has restated a concern with the civic as a difficult, time-consuming but highly rewarding component of the political realm. None of this stuff is easy; very few architects are capable of confidently operating at the scales required by this kind of work while producing results of such strength and humility.This project demonstrates the power of engaging in your own city, bringing locally-attuned spatial imagination to make propositions about a positive future. every city administrator should be bussed in to see a project that so elegantly sidesteps the inertia of a conserved city centre to make a confident statement about enduring civic pride.

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Location Historical City Centre of Ghent, Belgium
Program Construction of a market hall, bar/restaurant, infrastructure, squares & park
Architects Robbrecht en Daem architecten & Marie-José Van Hee architecten
Collaborators Jan Baes, Tom Broes, Bert Callens (project architect), Katrien Cammers, Axel Clissen, Mattias Deboutte, Petra Decouttere, Arne Deruyter, Linde Everaerd, Trice Hofkens, Gert Jansseune, Daniël Libens, Wim Menten (project architect), Carmen Osten, Filip Reumers, Sofie Reynaert, Miriam Rohde, Johannes Robbrecht, Marille Sicoli, Gert Swolfs, Pieter Vanderhoydonck, Kathy Vermeeren, Caroline Voet, Wim Walschap
Design and construction years 1996-2012
Client City of Ghent, VVM De Lijn & TMVW Structural Engineering BAS, Dirk Jaspaert Special Techniques Engineering Studiebureau Boydens Infrastructural Engineering
Technum-Tractebel Engineering Landscape architect Wirtz international
Photographs Marc de Blieck © Robbrecht en Daem

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