New Nekkersdal to become a warm and green community center for all residents of Laken

Multifunctional project accommodating culture, sports, artistic development, and general well-being

On Emile Bockstaellaan in Laken, a new multifunctional community center is soon to emerge, providing space for culture, sports, artistic development, and the overall well-being of both young and old. The Flemish Community Commission (VGC) and the City of Brussels have given the green light for an ambitious renovation, renewal, and expansion project for Nekkersdal, in which sustainability and greening play a significant role. A specialized Design & Build team led by contractor Democo recently won the public tender and will commence the initial works in May.

The current buildings of Nekkersdal are in poor condition. Despite some recent renovation work, a comprehensive overhaul is now essential. Alongside the City of Brussels, the VGC recently launched a competition for an ambitious Design & Build project, appointing a consortium of contractor and architect responsible for both the design execution and construction of the new project. The plans proposed by the team led by contractor Democo, OSK-AR architects, and ZAmpone architecture in collaboration with landscape firm Atelier Arne Deruyter ultimately convinced the jury.

Recognizable and green 
In concrete terms, Nekkersdal will become a multifunctional project, with space for culture, sports, artistic development, and the general well-being of children and young people. The site will now consist of six buildings, seamlessly connecting to each other.

On Emile Bockstaellaan, the recognizable Mansion will be partially restored and partly renewed. This space will house the meeting café, reception, and offices of the community center. Towards the rear of the Mansion, some sheds will be removed, making way for ample green space. The current 'Café Nekkersdal' building, located right next to the Mansion, will be demolished, creating a spacious passage connecting to the green area behind the Mansion. Pedestrians and cyclists will be able to pass through to Gustave Schildknechtstraat.

In the middle of the site, the renovated bases of Out-of-School Care Initiative (IBO) Laken, House of the Child, and a multifunctional building will be situated. Across the site, the existing sports hall will be retained. Additionally, there will be the revamped theater hall accommodating up to 160 people and a library. Space for extra greenery is also provided between the library and the multifunctional building.

"Nekkersdal is a highly dynamic community center in an equally lively neighborhood. The new site, especially the green inner courtyard, further connects the community center with the neighborhood. It will be a meeting place for everyone. Thanks to the new theater and event hall, culture will be easily accessible to schools and associations in the vicinity." - Ans Persoons, VGC Board Member responsible for Culture, Youth, Sports, and Community Centers.

Thoughtful and Sustainable
The VGC and the City of Brussels anticipate that the new project will attract even more residents of Laken and encourage them to visit the community center more frequently.

"With our design, we literally and figuratively give the site and the neighborhood extra breathing space. By organizing everything logically and invitingly, and adding a substantial dose of greenery, visitors will feel like they are entering a lively center where they can be themselves, discover new things, and experience the warmth of a close-knit community." - Peter Wyndaele, CEO of OSK-AR architects, and Bart Van Leeuw, CEO of ZAmpone architecture.

The revamped Nekkersdal is not only carefully designed but also exceptionally sustainable. Materials are reused, and intelligent technologies such as heat pumps, underfloor heating, passive cooling techniques, and LED lighting are introduced. The future Nekkersdal will also be a gas-free site, equipped with renewable energy and rainwater harvesting.

"We are working with a so-called self-sufficient construction site. This means that we will install solar panels and rainwater tanks during the construction. These provide power and water on the site. We expect that with the self-generated green energy, we can cover about 80% of the total energy consumption of the site. By using collected rainwater, we will be able to capture more than half of our water usage. Thanks to this way of working, the project is already much more environmentally friendly from the start." - Pieter Broekaert, Brussels branch director at Democo.

Temporary Locations 
During the construction, Nekkersdal will relocate to various temporary locations. For example, the daily childcare services will move to one of the partner schools. Currently, it is assumed that the library can remain on-site through a smart phasing of the construction.