Thibault Schmitz & Mathias Elaerts

Thibault Schmitz & Mathias Elaerts

Stop the Machine. ULG Liège (Belgium)

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As part of 'OVERSIZE Charleroi', the aim of the car park reconversion is to help reconnect the urban and social fabric of the dilapidated triangle district of the lower town.

Our approach which consists of rethinking the societal model that the car park expresses fits in this context. This car park was built in the sixties and remained frozen in time. Indeed, at that time, a different mentality prevailed, that’s to say a model of society based on an infinite growth and in which the future was projected into the car. Today, however, this model has reached its limits, or even surpassed a breaking point.This reality is expressed through a new model that is no longer based on the precepts of infinite growth. Thus, the car park in its original state has no longer its place in the model that is being built, repositioning an ideal where the car gradually disappears from city centres to make way for soft or shared transport means. A project strategy based on ‘deprogramming’ phases of the car park with successive transformations of the horizontal strata allows us to make a stable and sustainable transition from one model to another. They initially favour the appearance of uses linked to the direct redefinition of the district by functions with a social or cultural vocation, then secondary functions, which can participate in the local economy. To reconvert this building, clear architectural operations are carried out while respecting its horizontal character. A substractive operation of the slabs enables us to offer ceiling heights in line with current or future requirements. These are freed from the constraints linked to the serving spaces thanks to external silos allowing future programmatic modularity. The operations thus become the main outlines of the structuring of a programme linked to the city.

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