Brussels – You would be forgiven for wondering what could possibly be so inspiring about a car park. Generally damp, unattractive and cast in rough concrete, the typology conjures up images of 1950s brutalist volumes of necessity that obscure the skyline. De Jong Gortemaker Algra (dJGA) collaborated with Belgian firm Modulo Architects to deliver an unusual concept for the staff at the 40-year-old Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc – a teaching hospital for medical research – located 10-km east of Brussels.
The five-storey structure includes three subterranean levels but keeps the ambience refreshing throughout. The green roof is kept flat in order that it might be built upon at a later date. ‘We challenged ourselves to make the underground decks clear and pleasant,’ comments Rotterdam-based firm dJGA. ‘Introducing a sinuous “canyon” encompassing the garage allows light and air to reach even the lowest level.’ The site carves a void into the terrain, creating a light-well that floods the basement levels with natural daylight and prevents the 26,000 sq-m space from feeling dreary and dark.
The 985 spaces that make up the new parking garage at the city’s largest hospital reflect the irregularly-angled orientation of the meandering timber façade. The FSC-certified hardwood louvres are ‘naturally related to the character of the canyon,’ the firm continues. ‘The organic form of the façade contrasts the surrounding brutal architecture but blends seamlessly into the hilly landscape.’
Plan – Level -2 / Level 0 / Level 2 (Roof)