Jeroen Maesen

Jeroen Maesen

SYMBIOSIS. PHL Diepenbeek (Belgium)

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Area

SYMBIOSIS is located in the northern part of Maastricht, in the area of Hogefronten. The
existing green area is rather perceived as a fracture between the city centre and the first suburbs.
Due to the transformation of the historically significant Wilhelm Fortress into a place of social
importance, a new pole has been created in the urban texture, linking an important structural axis
to the Vrijthof.

Green wave

From the redefining of the transitions between the different areas of suburban green, a green
line connects the north-east surface with Hogefronten and Lagefronten. It is precisely at this spot,
where nature flirts with structure, that SYMBIOSIS is situated.

Programme

The building balances on the border of two squares. A lower green area and a lifted urban
square. This leads to the function “Information Centre for Durable Techniques”. It is supported by
such functions as a bio-restaurant, a terrestrial research centre, a natural food shop, recreation
including cycling and hiking and a museum of social history, for optimal information of the target
group “3 P’s” : People, Press and Professionals.

Project

The building’s external design originates from the structural axis and the historical layer, the
ancient ramparts. SYMBIOSIS symbolises the connection of the lifted rampart with the lower part.
The internal concept is based upon a strip of natural light enabling non-artificial lighting and
enclosing vertical and horizontal circulation.
The variation in levels and the crossing views through the building confronts the visitor with the
MAN – NATURE duality and the building itself, SYMBIOSIS, in an effort to minimise the distance
between man and nature. Furthermore, it is the exponent of the philosophy : technology as a tool
for nature conservation.

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