This project by Marie-José Van Hee architecten in collaboration with Robbrecht en Daem architecten was finalist for the 2013 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture - Mies van der Rohe Award

‚In the centre of Ghent, Paul Robbrecht, Hilde Daem and Marie-José Van Hee built new municipal facilities for the city’s Town Hall under a new public square, between the churches of St Nicholas and the Belfry. The terrain had been used as a car park since the 1960s, when a series of buildings were demolished in anticipation of an extension to the Town Hall that never came to be realized. Between the spaces of three squares of the original fabric,and extending to the local Korenmarkt, the architects built a large underground space for the town hall and bicycle storage, but of most importance was the monumental shelter at street level, that signified the Stadshal (2012). The structure -a great shed- evokes memories of both the covered markets and the hallen of Dutch towns (…). Its roof is supported on four colossal legs, one of which accommodates a great open-fire hearth, as if to exaggerate the almost archaic character of the structure, presenting an image that both serves and represents communal gathering. Sitting on the formerly abused terrain, the structure shelters a recovered clearing in the centre of the city, confers upon it the quality of a room, and bestows upon its occupants -citizens- the pleasure of looking at the city from with, and at each other. In so doing, the building revives a special characteristic of the historic sheltering hall, and fashions a profoundly public space, a place shared between citizens, one in which all are gathered together, in which all are equal, and all are other.’

Mark Pimlott in ‚The Public Interior as Idea and Project’ p. 185



CREDITS:
Program: Open Air Market Hall
Client: City of Ghent
Location: Ghent, Belgium
Timeline: 1996 (competition) & 2011 - 2012 (execution)
Project Team: Marie-José Van Hee architecten icw Robbrecht en Daem architecten
Structural Engineer: BAS, Dirk Jaspaert
Photography: Kristien Daem (01, 02), David Grandorge (03, 04, 05)