Cityforward appoints design team to redevelop European district in Brussels

Author: Frédéric Van der Planken

BRUSSELS, Thursday, 15 June 2023. Cityforward, the property fund of FPIM and Ethias, is redeveloping 21 European Commission office buildings into a sustainable city district. It has chosen Brussels-based Plusoffice Architects as the design team to draw up the master plan. Plusoffice Architects were selected from among 22 candidates. The master plan nominations were assessed by a jury composed of Cityforward representatives and Kristiaan Borret, the master builder of the Brussels Capital Region.

Cityforward, FPIM and Ethias are developing a plan to transform 300,000 square metres of office space into sustainable buildings, including housing units, in the coming years. Cityforward’s project in the heart of Brussels is now entering a new, important phase with the appointment of Plusoffice Architects as the design team. The team consists of accomplished architects and experts and will spend the coming months working on feasibility studies, urban planning integration and stakeholder consultations. Plusoffice Architects will be supported by RE-ST and Osmos Network, two expert firms in sustainable urban development. The objective is to create a framework for the 21 buildings that will guide the property development in the right direction.

Brussels master builder Kristiaan Borret is convinced the right choice was made.

‘Cityforward can move the public vision forward to finally get more urban mixing and improved public space in the European district. The ambitious team around Plusoffice Architects has clearly shown how it wants to find common ground between private and public interests with a healthy critical attitude. This is essential in an urban project such as this. They want to initially gain trust by engaging constructively with the different stakeholders. The collaboration with RE-ST and Osmos brings additional expertise to the table and ensures there is sufficient manpower to get everything done during peak periods. I look forward to the next steps of this project.’ Kristiaan Borret, Brussels Region Master Builder.

The design team is now drawing up the framework where they define the ideal mix of offices, public and commercial facilities, green and open spaces, and different types of homes. For each building, they consider the maximum desired building volume, where space can be freed up by changing boundaries and how projects best fit within the surrounding neighbourhood. On behalf of Cityforward, the design team will also explicitly focus on various aspects of sustainability. This includes reducing energy consumption in the offices, reducing CO2 emissions, facilitating renewable energy sources, improving mobility in the district, and creating new green spaces. Cityforward wants this approach to have a positive impact on the environment as well as contribute to the well-being and quality of life of those who live, work, shop and, relax in the area.

‘We’re delighted to enter a new phase of what will become a pioneering project transforming the European district in Brussels into a sustainable, future-proof, and vibrant neighbourhood. We believe in the power of innovation and partnerships. This design team shares our global vision to transform the heart of Europe into a vibrant urban district, with a focus on the social fabric, ecology, circularity and sustainable mobility. The input and involvement of all stakeholders are an essential part of the whole project. And this design team really wants to use it for synergy.’ Frédéric Van der Planken, CEO Whitewood, manager of Cityforward, a property fund.

The design team starts work on 14 June 2023 and the guiding urban planning framework is expected by the end of March 2024.


What is Cityforward?

Cityforward is a property fund established by FPIM (Federal Holding and Investment Company) and Ethias. It is managed by the Whitewood capital fund manager. The Cityforward initiators are drawing up a plan to redevelop 21 obsolete European Commission buildings into a sustainable city district according to ESG principles. The land covers a total of 300,000 square metres of existing office floor space. FPIM, as the government agency, will buy the buildings and Cityforward will handle the redevelopment work. The entire operation is a collaboration with the Brussels Region, municipalities, and government bodies. Previously, Cityforward purchased the Engie towers at Brussels North Station and the IT tower in Avenue Louise.

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