KAAN Architecten and LOW Architecten to renovate the headquarters of the National Bank of Belgium

The Bank’s operations are currently spread across multiple buildings in the heart of Brussels, no longer meeting the desired operational and energy efficiency standards. Aligned with the Bank’s commitment to social responsibility and sustainability, the consolidation of staff into a single building, NBB1, is slated to be completed by approximately 2030.

The new headquarters will enable the National Bank to considerably reduce its occupied surface area from the current 217,000 m2 to about 80,000 m2. The decision to consolidate is further bolstered by remote working practices, reducing the need for workstations.

Image © KAAN Architecten

The NBB1 block on Boulevard de Berlaimont currently consists of a collection of historical structures built over several decades, from the 1860s to the 1960s, modifying the circulation route and the connection with the city.

With its uneven wings and enclosed courtyards, the existing complex is considered operationally inefficient, but its striking historic components possess significant heritage and identity value that precludes demolition.

Image © KAAN Architecten

Therefore, a new vision is needed to transform this unique structure into a future-oriented space. At the heart of the renovation plan is removing restrictive elements within the NBB1 block, making way for a spacious courtyard garden on the ground floor adjacent to the former counter hall.

This revitalisation breathes new life into the area, creating pleasant work and meeting spaces abundant with natural light and serene green views. Strategic voids are introduced within the structure to enhance vertical relationships and orientation, while the height difference in the block is used to open the basement towards the garden.

Image © KAAN Architecten

Some ground-floor areas will also feature double-height ceilings, offering a generous sense of space and an abundance of daylight. The expansion of the office wings facing the garden ensures that all additional workstations benefit from the views of the newly created green space.

While preserving the integrity of the rear facade, a new transparent facade will be added, blurring the boundaries between the interior and exterior. The renovation project also prioritizes efficient circulation by providing direct access to the social plinth, granting entry to the inner garden, and introducing new passageways and lifts.

Image © KAAN Architecten

Moreover, the design focuses on establishing sightlines throughout the building and the atrium to improve the visibility of lifts and stairwells, with distinct entrances contributing to easy navigation and orientation for occupants and visitors alike.

The renovation of the NBB1 building will transform it into a cutting-edge smart building. The project’s key objectives are to improve energy performance and optimise the use of space.

Image © KAAN Architecten

By implementing innovative and sustainable solutions, such as advanced smart lighting, ventilation, and heating systems, the Bank aims to achieve substantial energy savings. Furthermore, the renovated headquarters will offer the Bank’s staff a modern and pleasant working environment that caters to the demands of the changing work practices.

The NBB’s ambitious renovation plan reflects its commitment to combining contemporary elements with preserving historical values. The result will be a recognisable headquarters that embodies sustainability, openness, and beauty while retaining its timeless grandeur. Source by KAAN Architecten and LOW Architecten.

Image © KAAN Architecten

Location: 3 Boulevard de Berlaimont, Brussels, Belgium

Architect: KAAN Architecten

Project team (KAAN Architecten): Timo Cardol, Javier Cuartero, Raluca Firicel, Michael Geensen, Renata Gilio, Walter Hoogerwerf, Aida Jalili, Kees Kaan, Julia Linde – van den Heuvel, Rens Hoofs, Christine Lie, Yinghao Lin, Renée Meijer, Hana Mohar, Laura Ospina, Vincent Panhuysen, Dikkie Scipio, Frane Stancic, Jasper van Boxtel, Michalina Wawro, Samara Zukoski

Architect (project management): LOW Architecten

Project team (LOW Architecten): Ruud Boeckx, Stijn Cockx, Nathalie Eekhaut, Simon Kaisin, David Meeus, Christiaan Oomen

Heritage advisor: Bressers Architecten, Ghent

MEP engineer, IT and SMART advisor: Boydens (Sweco), Groot-Bijgaarden

Structural engineering: Ney & Partners, Brussels

Sustainability advisor: SuReal, Brussels

Safety coordination: V.E.T.O. & Partners, Oosterzele

Landscape Architect: DELVA, Amsterdam

Safety and IT advisor: RT Group, Turnhout

Hospitality and catering advisor: Vijverborgh, Breda

Environment and EIA: Antea Group, Antwerp

Art consultant: Eva Wittocx, Brussels

Client: National Bank of Belgium, Brussels

GFA: ± 80.000 m2

Year: 2024

Images: Filippo Bolognese, Courtesy of KAAN Architecten

Ground Floor Plan

Fisrt Floor Plan


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