“J.P. Blondel favoured architecture as a frame to pedestrian circulation and organised based on a visual rhythm” (Louvain-la-Neuve, une manière de concevoir la ville [the design of a town] - Jean Remy)
Louvain-la-Neuve is explored and discovered through its buildings.
This new development extends the lines commenced by the cinema and François Schuiten’s fresco, to then rejoin the boundaries of the land to turn around and face the Aula Magna. The layout preserves to the maximum the presence and views of the Aula Magna from the university courtyard.
By its very nature, this creates an extension to the pedestrian areas and creates generously sized grounds extending inside the language school.
Although presenting a sober and impenetrable allure at first glance, the spaces of the new buildings have been designed to extend the courtyard. Upon entering, you instinctively gravitate towards the plaza, a space flooded with natural light. With a subtle interplay of transparencies, the atrium, bathed in light, opens out from the pedestrian street to reveal a space designed for social interaction.
The plot is elevated, which is an idiosyncrasy of this part of Louvain-la-Neuve. Underneath the ground level, there are two floors to accommodate the roads, car parks and technical spaces. There are few buildings that pay much attention to using these strata to their best advantage, by layering the levels. However, this represents the logic of the town’s urban design and had to be embodied in the heart of the building. Apart from the flow between interior and exterior, the spaces in the language school are structured around the separate levels, with circulation routes directly linked to the various campuses. The concept of using the strata inherent to Louvain-la-Neuve can also be seen on the ground level. The upper level is perforated to create a vast co-working space that can be seen from street level.
The location intentionally reduces the available land and imposes the creation of a very compact design to economically benefit the project, both from a construction and energy point-of-view. The various campuses and spaces devoted to the language school are distributed across five levels. Technical spaces in -1, collective (shared) and public spaces on the ground floor and auditoriums and classrooms on the various upper levels. The positioning of the different spaces allows for a modular use of the rooms.