The Monthly European Architectural Newsletter
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November 2010


Architecture or construction ?

Together with his father Michel Jaspers and John Eyers, Jean-Michel Jaspers, a member of the SAIE Selection’10 jury, runs a large architect’s firm which is very active, particularly in Brussels. In an interview with us on this occasion, he regretted the immobilism of the normative policy which he considers disturbing and sad. He also reminded us that « faced with critics who find Belgian architecture too sober, numerous architects hold on to interesting projects which have never been implemented or which have lost their soul after thorough modifications. » Indeed, there is some sort of unanimous condemnation of this narrow space within which creative steps must be taken. And let’s not forget the public’s disapproval of certain projects, sometimes even called architectural scandals. Although it is clear that our heritage must be carefully guarded, it is certain that it can also be enhanced by embracing modernity. The myopic view of relics of the past results in sterile copying. « Will architects ever find the strength to say NO together? Or find the will to stop benefiting from an impoverishment of their art? » That is what architect Marc Mawet already said twenty years ago. « It cannot be denied that the construction market experienced a significant boom in the capital of Europe, but the upsetting conclusion is that, apart from some exceptions, there were no architectural benefits, » he added. « Where do we stand two decades later? Will the Belair project on the 16-hectare site of the former National Administrative Centre, in the heart of Brussels, be implemented? Presented at MIPIM 2010 in Cannes, the glass building with its staggered floors wants a new wind to blow. And, by blending its purposes, it also wants to humanise its context in the hope of being an architectural example! A city is not a work of art, far from it. But it really needs a strong architecture to identify itself.

The Archi-Europe Team

Portrait of the month

Jean-Michel Jaspers

At a meeting in Bologna on the occasion of the SAIE Selection ‘10 competition, Jean-Michel Jaspers talks about his firm which is ready to take on any future challenges and his responsibility as an architect in today’s society.

Initially founded in 1960 by Michel Jaspers, the Jaspers architect’s firm turned into Jaspers - Eyers & Partners ten years ago, when it was joined by John Eyers and Jean-Michel Jaspers. The highly structured firm has a staff of 120, allowing it to handle large-scale projects. It is one of the leading firms in Belgium, capable of drawing up town planning master plans, office towers, public buildings, cultural or sports centres, rehabilitation of industrial buildings, etc. « For many firms it is difficult to make the transition from one generation to another, says Jean-Michel Jaspers. Indeed, their value is linked to the architect’s personality. It is him whom the clients know and it is him whom they trust. In our company’s case, it was a smooth transition, after my studies at the AA* in London and an internship with John Eyers who was already a part of the Jaspers firm for over a decade. John Eyers took me on board to take on our company’s new challenges, i.e. our foreign expansion and Belgian consolidation. Still quite present, my father is slowly taking a step back. His contract negotiation talent, his permit awarding connections, his address book resulting from his experience of over 50 years are always very much appreciated. They allowed me to avoid the inevitable pitfalls encountered by all young architects. The presence of three firms in Hasselt, Brussels and Louvain, with their balanced staffing, facilitated the transition. »

On a daily basis, the relationship between man and architecture, underlying all his actions, is present from the very beginning of a project, in the team’s complex organisation and in the building’s final form. Jean-Michel Jaspers has always been bathed in this philosophy. « We do not design inviolable works, but rather a pragmatic architecture which adapts and evolves to meet the occupants’ needs. » From the renovation of the Woluwe Shopping Center, Belgium’s leading shopping centre (1968), to the large-scale renovation of the Financial Tower, from the construction of the Corporate Village near the Brussels airport in co-operation with KPF London and Storme Van Ranst to the North Light and Pole Star buildings, two new towers in the Espace Nord: all these projects meet the current needs in terms of comfort, safety, ecology and technologies.

« While the Espace Nord, which has now become an example, was developed with a single purpose in mind, most of the current projects are mixed, in accordance with today’s architecture. Projects must be assessed in accordance with their era. Our customers have evolved. What sets us apart from other Belgian firms? Even when dealing with a single small building, we take the entire neighbourhood into consideration and start by designing a broader and stronger vision, thus helping our customers to fulfil the necessary formalities with the political authorities or city council. » Moving beyond the inevitable politically correct community associations, the Jaspers-Eyers firm has associated itself with leading international architects. For instance in Liège, where it co-operates daily with Ron Arad to incorporate his ideas in the central part of the daring Médiacité complex, while ensuring the follow-up of the implementation. It is truly a town planning project on a site of over 6.5 hectares. Reminiscent of the Santiago Calatrava station, Médiacité was designed with sustainable development in mind, from the very beginning. The construction is even certified by Breeam, a reference in terms of environmental performances. In Brussels, within the scope of the Heron City project which has sparked so much debate, Jaspers-Eyers is the partner firm of the Dutch UN Studio (van Berkel & Bos) firm for the « Entre les Deux Portes » complex, combining a hundred-odd housing units with 13,000 m2 of shopping spaces. The last urban cancer at the Toison d’or will finally be eradicated!

« Belgian architects must come out of their shells and sell themselves better abroad. Indeed, our asset is the creation of interesting buildings for small budgets. This makes us competitive compared to our European neighbours. » John Eyers and Jean-Michel Jaspers have been commissioned urban projects ranging from 100 to 300,000 m² by the Breevast group in Brussels and in China, by the Ghelamco group in Poland, for the T&T group on the Tour & Taxis site and also in the Belarusian capital by an international group. All of which are major urban interventions. « Being an architect today no longer simply means to design a building. The duration, disassembly of the materials and their recycling must be taken into consideration, because laws change and energy performances evolve. A building now involves a much broader approach. « We never considered a building as an object, but rather as an urban entity, as a multiplication of functions based on a broader idea. » This long-term vision illustrates the responsibility of delivering a product that never goes out of fashion. Of enjoying architecture which can safely grow old!

Architectural Association School of Architecture

1. Espace Jacqmotte, Brussels
A daring challenge, the rehabilitation of the old Jacqmotte site now combines housing and work functions in a neighbourhood that was in danger of becoming a ghetto.

2. VAC Leuven
Destined for flexible offices for remote work, the 200-metre-long complex adjoining a 17-floor tower was designed in accordance with the principles of sustainability (enhanced insulation, energy storage and recovery system, free-cooling, etc.).

3. Belgian Embassy, Tokyo 2010

4. Warsaw Spire, Warsaw
With its height of 220 m and profile characterised by finesse, the tower will be the tallest office building of the Polish capital in two or three years’ time.

5. MG Tower, Ghent 2010-2012
Called the Zero Energy Tower, the tallest tower in Ghent (119 m) will be a part of a larger plan combining offices and shops.

6. Liège Paradis
Creating a link between the Guillemins station and Médiacité, this large-scale project houses the offices of the Régie des Bâtiments in a prow-shaped tower, includes a walkway and an esplanade (arch. Dethier) to create more space in the city revitalise and entire neighbourhood.

7. Anderlecht Stadium, Brussels
Expansion of the Constant Vanden Stock stadium with a third tier of 11,000 additional seats, and renovation of the interior and exterior.

8. Belair, Brussels
In association with the Belgian SAQ (Arne Quinze) and Archi 2000, this daring project with its combined functions wants to humanise the 16-hectare site of the former National Administrative Centre, in the heart of Brussels. The glass building stands out with its staggered floors.

Project of the month

Saie Selection 2010

Selection of images from the prize winners of the recent international architecture competition, organised by BolognaFiere in co-operation with Archi-Europe.

Searching for young talent, the competition is open to students and architects under 40 and is intended to highlight projects involving a symbiosis with the three major SAIE 2010 themes: solutions aimed at energy efficiency and sustainable development, solutions using state-of-the-art tools or design aids, solutions ensuring efficiency and safety in and outside the production site. Last 8 September the jury, with architect Mario Cucinella as president, selected the 24 prize winners in Bologna, out of more than 200 projects from 37 countries all over the world. We hereby present the first eight prizes, which were particularly diverse this year in terms of culture and personality. As stated by the president of the jury, these projects, falling into four categories, exhibit the multiple qualities of wood, innovative concrete technology, the infinite possibilities of metal/glass or the creativity of bricks. The selection committee was seduced by the undulating and dynamic shapes, aimed at economically reducing the sun’s impact!

1. Category Wood


Magén Arquitectos / Saragosse (Spain)
Headquarters of the Environment service on the Ebro riverbank.

The material is an integral part of the building’s symbolic expression as a public building. The architect showed how to use technology to express the integrating concepts and to create an evident link between the public exterior and the interior space. It must be pointed out that the meticulous wooden finish of the stairs, terraces and promenades, with different means, fully expresses the linguistic potential of wood.


Università IUAV di Venezia facoltà dell’Architettura, Italy
« Earthquake housing », L’Aquila (Italy)

This project is innovative not only because it uses structural wood panels, thus beginning a new chapter in the use of this material, but also because of its architectural implementation which explores its integration in the difficult context of the existing urban fabric.

2. Category Brick


Anagram Architects / India
South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre, New Delhi (India)

The jury appreciated the illustration of a new awareness in using a simple material based on local traditional architecture themes, but with a contemporary interpretation, as well as the high aesthetic and ecological value, attention to natural light and ventilation. This ‘sustainable’ project, the headquarters of an important human rights organisation in India, exudes a genuine emotional power.


Hugon Kowalski / Poznan (Poland)
Water Tower, Sudan

This is by far the most poetic and most visionary project of the competition. Without any arrogance, by integrating these large brickwork structures in the landscape, the student tries to provide a real and concrete solution for the basic necessities (water and housing) in an African country, where these necessities are often dramatic. A fine solution from a visual point of view, illustrating the value and importance of architecture.

3. Category Concrete


XVStudio / Barcelona (Spain)
Melaku Center, Mekelle (Ethiopia)

This education centre explores the theme of « natural/artificial » integration. The project’s complexity is a very important element, especially in relation to the local situation, where the need to ‘do’ architecture is strongly felt. The jury found it interesting from a technological point of view, since it combines the technical properties of concrete with the use of simple and local materials.


Tsveta Ruseva / Sofia (Bulgaria)
Language High School, Sofia

The student found a different way to express the potential of concrete technology, by using its formal potential through new solutions which integrate the land and concrete.

4. Category Metal & Glass


Joe Nashashibi & Rami Kopty / Nazareth (Israel)
Unidiversity, Nazareth (Israel)

The project not only illustrates the technological use of this material, but also its ability to be integrated in the landscape by transforming the building into an integral part of the context, with the added problems of environment reconstruction and protection. This project suggests new architectural solutions based on three fundamental elements: integration in nature, coexistence between people and a relationship with the rest of the


Ramadan Shahabudin / Rawang Selangor (Malaysia)
« Inhabiting the urban lungsgreen building center », Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)

In spite of its utopian vision, this project is a powerful expression of a new understanding between architecture and ecological strategy. This highly creative project exhibits a change towards more awareness and emotions about questions which are too often only solved technologically.

Product of the month

Unique Lambda value

Isover Multimax 30 is a glasswool board for cavity and curtain walls. It has a lambda value of 0,030 W/m.K, an absolute record on the market (competing glasswool brands usually have lambda values ranging from 0,032 to 0,034). In addition, Multimax 30 is sufficiently flexible to compensate any irregularities and reduce thermal bridges and leaks. It is indeed surprising how much heat can be lost through the tiniest crack in a wall.

The advantages of glasswool as an insulant are well-known: glasswool has the ability to compensate any irregularities which could cause thermal bridges, as opposed to foam boards for example. Other important assets include its vapour permeance (which helps to keep a building dry), its acoustic insulation properties and its unattractiveness to fungi or pests. In addition, glasswool is easy to handle and install.

For more information:

Archi-World® Academy Website Now Online!

The first worldwide architecture contest for students in architecture Archi-World® Academy Award (AWA) 2011/2013: "Energy-saving projects and ideas for the future of architecture and urbanism".

The launch of the contest will take place on the 19th of January during the International Building Fair Bau 2011, Messe München in Munich, who is also co-organizer. The project already has the full support of the European Commission. The award will give students in architecture coming from the entire world the chance to present their best projects or concepts in the field of energy savings.


MUTEC – International Trade Fair for Museum and Exhibition Technology
(18 - 20/11/2010) - Leipzig (DE)
(20 - 28/11/2010) - Liège (BE)
(30/11 - 03/12/2010) - Lyon (FR)
(19 – 21/11/2010) - Valencia (ES)
Bauvisite 138
(20/11/2010) - Vienna (AT)
(20 - 23/11/2010) - Rimini (IT)
Passivhaus Products Exhibition
(> 27/11/2010) - Manchester (UK)
To the Arts, Citizens!
(21/11/2010 - 13/03/2010) - Porto (PT)
>> read more


2011 residential architect Design Awards
Deadline : 09/12/2010
2011 Skyscraper Competition
Deadline : 11/01/2011
2011 Mock Firms International Skyscraper Challenge
Deadline: 15/01/2011
Deadline : 22/01/2011
>> read more


1. Le bois dans l’architecture et l’aménagement intérieur
Collectif Loft Publications
288 pages | € 29.95
Editions Loft Publications
ISBN : 978-8492731695

>> read more

2. Architectural Graphics
Francis D.K. Ching

256 pages | € 36,00

ISBN 978-0-470-39911-8
>> read more

3. Taïwan Mod
Marc Gerritsen, Luuk van Heerde
646 pages |
Page One Publishing
ISBN 978-981-245-868-1

>> read more


Copyright 2010 Archi-Europe Group nv/sa
Responsible Editor : Jacques Allard
Chief Editor : Marie-Claire Regniers
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