MONS – Belgium-based Atelier d’Architecture Pierre Hebbelinck transforms an old Water Column Machine, a symbol of fin-de-siècle industrial architecture, into a museum dedicated to the occupation of Mons during the two World Wars.
The building rises three storeys and comprises two contemporary wings placed on each side of the historic water tower, which contrasts with the opaque, monolithic brick wings to highlight its transparency and openness. Here, visitors enter a spacious hall, the central point of the museum. Deconstructed, exposed bricks clad the walls while a sober design made of folded metal sheets turns into stairs, furniture and a bridge.
On one side of the entrance, an exhibition space hosts temporary expositions that go deeper into the history of the two wars. On the other side, the permanent exhibition forms a loop over two floors leading chronologically through the city’s military history. Simple and slightly inclined, the space has a natural flow, taking visitors on an emotional and edifying journey. The architect alludes to military materials using raw materials and simple forms. Once completing the exhibiton, a relaxing cafe awaits, which opens onto a terrace and promenade giving visitors a view of the garden pond.