Broadcaster VRT opts for a new compact, horizontal building
Three spacious work floors to stimulate collaboration between different departments in new building in Brussels
21 June 2021
The VRT, the Flemish Public Broadcaster, has selected a partner for the construction of the new VRT house in Brussels. The current building is more than four decades old. The VRT wants to continue to be the best possible public broadcaster and a brand new building will help us prepare for the future. The contract has been awarded to the construction team consisting of OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen, Jaspers-Eyers Architects, Bureau Bas Smets, Tractebel, CES, Ideal Acoustics, Willemen Construct, Jan De Nul Group and EEG. Under the name VRT Morgen (which translates as VRT Tomorrow), they are joining forces to realise the creation of the new VRT house to which the public broadcaster will move in the summer of 2026. The new media house focuses on flexibility and cooperation with meeting places where the VRT employees can come together, playing a key role. It is a compact and accessible building consisting of two stacked volumes. The building has a ground floor with a mezzanine and only three upper floors comprising an area of 87 x 87 m. A green environment enhances both the inside and outside of the new VRT house.
The candidacy for the new-build project, which is part of the transformation of the Reyers district and the realization of mediapark.brussels, started in February 2020. Seven construction teams submitted their candidacy via a Design & Build formula. In the period preceding the final decision, a competition dialogue was held with a number of candidates. Based on these predetermined award criteria, the Board of Directors and the management of the VRT opted for a definitive award to the VRT Morgen construction team. The contract was awarded a little over a year ago with a maximum construction cost of EUR 133.5 million. VRT Morgen will realize the building for a construction cost that is well within the specified contract budget.
“The VRT has opted for a good, strong design that underlines its position as the largest cultural institution in Flanders. During the first discussions about the new building, it was immediately decided to stay in Brussels. The VRT remains attached to the capital and thus strengthens the bond between Flanders and Brussels. ” Luc Van den Brande, Chairman of the VRT Board of Directors
With the new management agreement the VRT is ready to face the future and this building is the perfect house for this.
“With the realisation of the new building, our public broadcaster is taking another big step towards the future. A modern media company deserves the most optimal infrastructure. The new building will become the reference point within the Brussels media hub. On the legendary Reyerslaan, next to the well-known tower, there will be a modern and sustainable media building that responds to the most recent evolutions in the media world. It is clear that the VRT will change dramatically in the coming years. The impetus was given in the new management agreement; the change will also soon be very visible with the new building. It will also be a pleasant and modern workplace for VRT employees and partners.” Benjamin Dalle, Flemish minister for Brussels, Youth and Media
“The new VRT house is a high-quality building that fully meets contemporary architectural expectations. The building fits perfectly into the urban context and the environment of the Reyers site. ” Kristiaan Borret, Brussels architect
"A building that stimulates our new way of working together"
The new 65,000 m² VRT house - of which 40,000 m² is above ground - will remain on the current site in the Reyerslaan and is described as a horizontal building with two stacked volumes. The first octagonal volume is a base consisting of a spacious lobby, many meeting places for employees and visitors and three large television studios. Above this is the second volume, the work area, consisting of just three floors. Each floor comprises an extremely spacious work floor, a square measuring 87 mx 87 m, where collaboration is key. The VRT is a creative house and in the future it will be possible to create content very easily on any office floor. Flexibility and media creation go hand in hand. In terms of accessibility, the new VRT house strives for an A ++ label, which stands for a building that is highly accessible to both visitors and employees.
“We have opted for a horizontal building that promotes a new way of working together and breaks silos between our departments,” said VRT CEO Frederik Delaplace. “Our people will literally work together on large work platforms that can respond flexibly to how media will evolve in the coming decades. The building forms a new living environment for the employees: a place where creation and interaction are central and where we can create media everywhere. ”
A sustainable building with five inner gardens and a limited footprint
The new VRT house is a compact building, integrated into the natural environment and with a limited ecological footprint. On the one hand, the construction project has opted to preserve as many existing trees as possible and, on the other hand, the new building is 100% free of fossil fuels. An insulating building shell is used and the building is fully heated by means of recuperated heat and heat pumps. A further 2,300 m² of solar panels are installed on the roof to support the electrical installation.
Indeed, the VRT has literally opted for a green building with five large inner gardens and adjoining terraces. The combination with the trees and the park makes this a distinct green environment, both inside and out.
Relocation planned for the summer of 2026
The construction team aims to get started as soon as possible. In the coming months, VRT employees will be closely involved in determining how the brands and departments will spatially relate to each other. In the meantime, the dossier is being prepared for the application for the building permit. The exact start date of the works will be determined once this permit is issued. The goal is to move in the summer of 2026.
The new VRT house
The new VRT house is a versatile building, both literally, because of the octagonal base volume, and figuratively. It is the ideal place to create media, a home for our employees and a meeting place for visitors.
Base: The base is an octagonal volume where the connection with the environment plays an important role. There is a spacious and inviting reception area, an event space of 500 m², a company restaurant, three large television studios and logistics workspaces such as loading and unloading areas, operation management, dressing rooms, etc.. There is also an underground carpark. "
Section: Above the base is the three-story section, or work floors, which are perforated by five courtyards. Collaboration and meeting are key to these three open work floors. This is where the news studio and the radio studios are located, and it is also very easy to create media here because various media facilities are integrated in the workplace. There are also places to collaborate, brainstorm, work in silence… depending on what an employee is looking for.
“The VRT will soon be housed in a compact and horizontal building. It is a bit like a flattened VRT tower, because the building is almost as wide as the tower is now high. This volume is like a complete allotment, a section that comprises all VRT brands and departments. This media section is supported by a versatile base.” Kersten Geers (Architect, OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen)
“The new VRT is a culture factory, an atelier for creating media. Wherever you want. And everyone is close together. There is no distance, but instead cooperation, consultation and creation. The many gardens in the building and magnificent trees around it provide a completely new and inspiring environment. ” David Van Severen (Architect, OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen)
“The design revolves around the encounter between people. An open, central staircase connects the work floors and communal areas. And there too, interaction plays a central role thanks to the presence of various gardens and pleasant meeting places. ” John Eyers (Architect, Jaspers-Eyers Architects)
“The building is constructed around five spacious inner gardens that are accessible from the work areas. A lush vegetation filters daylight on the one hand and purifies the air on the other. Thanks to the smart positioning of the building on the site, the existing large trees in the park will be preserved as much as possible. Consequently, the building simultaneously has a view of the existing public park and a view of the intimate gardens on the inside. ” Bas Smets (Landscape architect, Bureau Bas Smets)
The central concept in 6 images
The new VRT house is a horizontal building with a total surface area of approximately 65,000 m², of which 40,000 m² is above ground. The building consists of two stacked volumes. The ground floor has a very inviting reception area and is oriented towards the media square, the city and the park. There are also three open, spacious floors where meeting and collaboration are central. There is less distance between the departments and management boards and many more people work on one floor, so that VRT employees are, literally and figuratively, closer together.
The main entrance is located on the new media square, opposite the new RTBF building. The VRT house wants to be an open, accessible and inviting meeting place for both employees and visitors. Everyone is welcome and the atmosphere of the entrance hall exudes this. The walls of the building are of glass, which gives you a unique insight into the media house and literally focuses on transparency. The main entrance is located in a car-free, green zone where cyclists and pedestrians can move around safely. The building provides an abundance of bicycle parking spaces with associated facilities, showers and lockers.
The hall can be compared to a lively market square, the vibrant heart of the new media house. In the reception area a central, open staircase leads to the different floors. There are lots of coffee corners and meeting places where VRT employees and visitors can meet.
The spacious lobby flows into the company restaurant, and large outdoor terrace that is connected to it. There is also a pleasant reception area for the studio audience attending a recording and a large event space, also for public events. It is ideal for making the building accessible to visitors who, for example, are attending a performance.
The new building is primarily a creative place and is fully committed to flexibility and media creation. Consequently, media can be created from all over the building. The necessary facilities and tools will be available everywhere.
The five green inner gardens of 14 x 22 metres are embedded in the core of the building and each has its own identity with indigenous trees and shrubs. The adjoining terraces are freely accessible and provide a pleasant, inspiring and above all green, working environment.
The news studio is located in the middle of the work field, on the second floor. This studio is connected to the heart of the editorial team by way of a glass wall. The radio studios and flexible places to create content are also located in the VRT Section.
There are also three large television studios in the VRT Base, the lower volume of the building.
The new VRT house is a compact building, integrated into the natural environment and with a limited ecological footprint. The construction project aims to safeguard as many existing trees as possible and to preserve the green aspects of the site. In addition, the new building is 100% free of fossil fuels. A well-insulating shell envelops the building, which minimizes the need for heating. "First avoid, then green" is the motto here. Natural gas or fuel oil is no longer used and the building is fully heated with the aid of, among other things, heat pumps and geothermal energy, with a maximum focus on heat recovery and the activation of inertia. Around 2,300 m² of solar panels will be installed on the roof to support the electrical installation.
The new VRT house in figures
- 1 base and 1 section
- A section of 3 floors
- 65,000 m² building
- 3 floors with each the size of 2 football fields
- 18,000 m² flexible workplaces
- 5,000 m² green space
- 5 inner gardens
- 10,000 m² meeting spaces
- 500 m² event space
- 3 large TV studios
- 1 studio on the news floor
- 5 radio studios
- 100% accessible to everyone
- 2,300 m² solar panels
VRT Morgen construction team
Several leading players in the Belgian construction sector found each other by way of their shared vision and values, and came together in the VRT Morgen construction team. Driven by the fruitful collaborations from the past, these parties found each other through their complementarity for this project.
- Design team: OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen, Jaspers-Eyers Architects, Bureau Bas Smets, Tractebel Engineering, CES and iDeal Acoustics
- Contractors: Willemen Construct, Jan De Nul and EEG
“We want to build well right from the start. An intensive collaboration is therefore crucial. We constantly refine the design from all angles. We sit around the table with a lot of experience, enthusiasm and with one common goal: the realisation of a fantastic new VRT house. All in agreement!" Jelle Machiels (Project Manager VRT Morgen, Willemen Construct)
“VRT Morgen has designed a compact, open and dynamic media house where creation plays a central role. The building ia a fine example of user comfort, energy efficiency and biodiversity. In addition, it is connecting, inspiring and flexible, just like the construction team. ” Sofie Herreman (Sales Manager, Tractebel)
Communication manager and corporate spokesperson, VRT