The project for the surroundings of the AGC headquarters is based on a holistic ecological vision. It aims to enhance, and subsequently make accessible, the site’s biodiversity. Following the natural slope, the parking area is positioned under the building, preserving the surrounding open area. Based on the morphological characteristics of the terrain, its orientation and soil composition, the site has subsequently been organized around three main zones of natural diversification: the wetlands, the boscage, and the prairie.
Given the hilly nature of Walloon Brabant, the naturally sloping terrain is domesticated and remodeled. The resulting microrelief integrates an interconnected network of rainwater reservoirs, merely perceivable as such but all the same allowing for a gradual absorption of the surface water of the site. The resulting variation in humidity throughout this microrelief makes for a series of diverging microclimates a huge catalyst for the diversity of plants, like ragged-robin or cuckooflowers, and animal life throughout the site.
The wetland zone is bordered by newly planted boscages, mainly along the site’s perimeter. Composed of mixed hedgerow, interspersed with a variety of field trees, they lend refuge to birds and small mammals. The partial use of thorn bushes like hawthorn and blackthorn make impenetrable borders, although their modest heights are not compromising the views onto the surrounding landscape. Over time the diversified plantations develops into a varied brushwood border with a diversity of shape, color and vegetal texture.
The third zone of diversification on the site constitutes an area of semi-dry grasslands. Through a diversified management scheme, zones of intensive maintenance alternate with zones where nature is left to itself, seeking balance between human use and nature development. In the extensively maintained areas, a vegetation of flower meadow with typical species like marsh gentian and sneezewort and its accompanying insect life can be found.
More than anything, it is the interaction between these different zones that creates a great biological richness and allows the site to mature into a resilient ecosystem, while equally offering the users an enjoyable view from the offices as an usable landscape.
Entrant office name: Erik Dhont (bvba)
Role of the entrant in the project: Landscape design
Other design firms involved: Philippe Samyn and Partners (architecture)
Project location: Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
Design year: 2013
Year Built: 2015