The idea of the project stemmed from recreating an unorganized parking lot into a multimodal transport hub for hard and soft mobility and a public space. The initial proposal comprised a shed for each function: a bus stop, a bike station, parking spaces, and a public restroom. The functions were then grouped into one entity to grant space for seating and planted areas thus rendering Kiem for the public. The steel shading bars were used for shading and for defining an architecturally dynamic piece that caters to each user. The exterior area is marked by a modular and homogeneous pattern that spreads from the largest detail to the smallest. Signage and construction details were conceived in a way that achieves the desired purity and seamlessness with the use of advanced technology.
The first phase of the project entailed diverting the pedestrian and cycling paths into the bus stop to ease mobility for all. Sidewalks were then reshaped to ease access for disabled people and fitted with lighting fixtures and traffic signals placed to ensure maximal safety for all users. Ease of access is a defining factor that guided the placement of functions, as the bike station is placed close to the bike path, the parking spots south of the site, on Rue Kiem to divert traffic from the main road. The rest area is immediately next to the bus stop with the public WC in proximity. This also allows for a good separation between the circulation and the seating areas. Moreover, only 2 existing trees were removed, but 9 planters were built with species indigenous to the area of Capellen.
The “Place de Kiem” project stewards environmental and societal sustainability by favoring soft mobility and sustainable construction techniques. The parking area features a charging station for electric cars and a parking space for disabled people. A “Vel’Oh” (governmental initiative for electric bike rentals) station was also integrated along with 2 boxes for parking bikes. One of the benches is covered with photovoltaic panels and allows users to charge their phones. 9 trees were planted for shading and organizing the space. Furthermore, local concrete was used in the project. Throughout the different phases of the project, we followed a rigorous program of communal meetings to ensure that it meets the comfort of nearby citizens.
Achieving a minimalist and harmonious integration of all elements guided the design process. A trapezoidal pattern defines the exterior elements, such as the paving, planters, benches, and wall finishes and therewith unifies their function and materiality. The 5 planters in the parking area have pentagonal shapes reminiscent of the shed, with drainage and ventilation pipes integrated into its soil. A circulation axis distributes the rooms in the shed, which are shaded with white steel bars that follow the height of each function, thus creating different angles. The 30x100mm hollow bars hide the cables in the project to offer a clean outcome and are bolted with white screws, and they seamlessly intersect the paving with precut holes. While the bus stop is semi glazed, bikes can either be stored on top of each other in the Mobility box, or in the open box which includes a bench. The WC is covered with grey “Trespa” panels that follow the paving pattern. Ramps and tactile tiles were added to the sidewalk for accessibility, and the signage was implemented with an easily read color code. Information boards and electric screens are installed to offer updated information on bus times and bike rentals. Furthermore, the 10 parking spots include 2 charging stations, 2 rental spots, and one disabled parking spot. Bollards and corner signs define each parking spot, with lighting poles for added safety. A fountain is also installed to provide drinking water for travelers.
The project we commissioned turned out to be a great success! The trees added much beauty to the neighborhood, and the interesting design of the space changed citizens’ perception of their own town. Many voyagers and people from town use the present amenities daily; as they are given a comfortable environment whenever they are in a rush to find a bus, a bike, or even a car. What our citizens also appreciate is how considerate this place is to their needs and the needs of disabled people.
Beng Architectes Associés is the story of 4 architecture students in Brussels who decided to create a practice right after graduation, or almost. Since 1991, the firm has grown to include 9 associate architects and a multidisciplinary team of about 85 enthusiasts. The Beng signature is a simple architecture that is creative and responsible, concerned with harmonious integration of the built environment into the global ecosystem. The office has thus created Papaya Urbanistes et architectes paysagistes, a consulting firm specialized in urban and environmental planning.
Beng is therefore a guarantee of quality work, rigorous follow-up, and support at all levels. Its architecture combines pragmatism and aesthetics within the exact measure. With their minds full of ideas, our designers always have their feet on the ground, as beautiful design must also be functional and meet concrete needs, whether it's for private or large public projects.