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Covent Garden

contributed by 323 World Architecture Festival , 2 June 2009


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Description Covent Garden:

The project comprising a high-rise building and low-rise building is meant to become an urban signal announcing the North area, the only purpose-built high-rise business district of Brussels. From an urban point of view, the project blends in as much with the historic low-rise buildings it faces on one side that it copes with the tall buildings it faces on two other sides while at ground level a pedestrian link is created between an existing park and a major public square via a landscaped garden-atrium which is also an “eco-machine” meant to organize wastewater recovery.
Covent Garden provides for its users an extraordinary variety of different surfaces available throughout the different buildings and the different levels while it also provides some of the largest floor plates built in recent years in Brussels.

In a permanent concern for sustainable development and energy savings, the architect has developed the concept of wastewater recovery. Covent Garden is thus equipped with an installation which in its specific application is a first in Belgium. The garden of the atrium is a major area to meet within the complex while it is also the place where the “Eco-Machine” functions.
The “Eco-Machine” is a wastewater treatment process using advanced biological and bacteriological purification techniques. This water includes grey water, water from washing, and black water containing faeces. The objective is to treat this water so that it can be recycled into the building’s own consumption cycle. Water is recovered at the end of the process and is stored in a pond of undrinkable water. It is re-injected into the building for sanitary uses (washrooms), for the building maintenance and for watering the plantings.
The system proceeds initially by sedimentation in a septic tank and biological purification with nitrification: the bacteria are held in free suspension in the water and the biomass is filtered through membranes. In a second stage, the water transits via the covered garden into vats with helophytes, which play a fine purification role. When entering the atrium, the water complies with the minimum criteria required for safety and hygiene.
The system not only allows for a reduction in water consumption but it will also reduce wastewaters’ taxes as well.
Operable window-boxes allowing natural ventilation – but not the rain to get in – are also a mean to reduce energy consumption as it give a choice to each individual occupant. The window-boxes – allowing natural ventilation allow at the same time to hear the sound of the city.
The radiant air-conditioning system or cold ceiling requires a negligible maintenance of the radiant ceilings and a very low overall cost. Fresh air enters the offices through grilles of ventilation in the ceilings and is extracted next to the lights after being drawn across the offices. The system, because the cold air is radiating over the overall ceiling surface provides the same comfort with a 26°c temperature that it would at 25°c with a traditional air conditioning system. Therefore, the radiant air-conditioning system requires less energy to achieve the same level of comfort.

Photograph by: Serge Brison

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Information Covent Garden:

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Brussels, Belgium

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