Details

Keywords Change this

Concrete, Rectorate, Office Building, Belgian Modernism

Project timeline

1971 – 1976

Type

Education & Research

Location Change this

Pleinlaan 2
B-1050 Brussels
Belgium

Architect Change this

Rectorate of the Vrije University Change this

Brussels, Belgium
by Renaat Braem Change this
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Description Change this

The Rector's Building of the VUB is one of the last masterpieces of Renaat Braem built between 1974 and 1978 under a building permit from 1973. The Rectorate Building illustrates the plastic aspect and the free aesthetics that he developed at the end of his career. This building can be considered as a total artwork by the architect, because he was responsible for both the design and its full implementation. The Rectorate Building wants to be an allegory of the liberation of the mind, supported by a university based on the principle of free research.

It has six floors, and the facade of light yellow bricks has more 700 rectangular windows. with dark frames, in a tight alignment that emphasizes both the verticality and the horizontal of the building. Access to the building is located on the Plein Avenue and includes a glass door with heavy wooden beams under a curling concrete canopy . Under this access is the entrance to the parking garage, at the level of the fully underground basement. VUB, Campus Oefenplein, Rectorate Building. At the back of the building a pond is laid in a concrete tub that follows thearchof the building. The floor of the entrance hall is made of red, white and blue tiles in a line play that rhythmics the room and follows its shapes. One wall of the entrance hall is a tableau in brick masonry in the form of a spiral.

An elliptical staircase leads to the different building layers: wooden stairs, a concrete staircase and a handrail in blue painted metal and wood. Originally, all floors were designed as office landscapes, but once the building was actually put into use, they were converted into separate offices separated by prefabricated walls. Between 1976 and 1984 the architect also realized murals (500 meters long). They are thematically classified and rise spirally from the ground floor to the fifth floor. From below to above they illustrate the energy (fire and water), the origin of life, the primitive earth, man, the uprising, and finally the ultimate goal, the free person in a free-thinking environment.

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