Lonely Planet Writer

This former garage is set to become a cultural hub in Brussels

A vast, 35,000 sq m Citroën garage in Brussels is set to be converted into a Belgian outpost of Paris’ famous Centre Pompidou with a museum of modern and contemporary art, public galleries and an architecture centre part of the plans.

Brussels to get it's very own Centre Pompidou
Artwork inside the old Citroen factory left in its original state at the Kanal-Pompidou Centre, a new modern and contemporary art museum and cultural exchange centre in Brussels on 5 May 2018 during the public opening day. Photo by: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

The monumental transformation works will begin in spring 2019 on the KANAL – Centre Pompidou cultural hub, but until then the naked 1930s architectural gem will serve as an artistic platform displaying a multidisciplinary programme during what the owners are calling a ‘pre-figurative year’.

Plans for exhibitions, concerts and pop-up shops are all in the works, an experimental approach that will enable the public to see the port museum in its raw state. Live art shows are being put on most weekends in June and July, with 11 art installations currently on display too.

The Brussels version of Centre Pompidou
Visitors walk around Kanal-Pompidou Centre on May 4, 2018. Photo by: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

The transformation of the former garage will be completed by an international team of architects – noAarchitecten, EM2N and Sergison Bates – who are hoping to channel the city’s creative energy into the capital’s largest cultural institution. In their quest to think outside the box, they have decided to create three boxes in the glass-roofed garage shell, which will be home to the museum, the architecture centre and an auditorium. Each box will feature its own microclimate in an effort to use energy wisely.

The remaining space spread out across the four floors will showcase other installations and events in a wide range of configurations, connected by ramps and bridges. The project’s vision will tap into the environmental assets at hand, using the canal’s water for cooling and rooftop panels for heating. On the outside, the building will be wrapped by a luminous electronic strip, which will either display useful information or be used as a light installation in itself.

Kanal - Pompidou Centre, Brussels
A visitor walks around Kanal – Pompidou Centre, a new modern and contemporary art museum and cultural exchange centre in Brussels, on  4 May 2018. Photo by: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

The monumental transformation works will begin in spring 2019 but until then, during a so-dubbed “prefigurative year”, the naked 1930’s architectural gem will serve as an artistic platform with a multidisciplinary programme designed to echo the unique space’s identity in an ongoing dialogue with the urban fabric and cultural stakeholders.

KANAL – Centre Pompidou is open now.

By Analia Glogowski