Historic “École des vétérinaires” building becomes a new business hub

Energy-efficient renovation of the old Veterinary School in Anderlecht, a focal point for urban renewal in Brussels, will provide first-rate office space for local SMEs and start-ups.

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Architect’s rendering of the future cafeteria. © Bart Blancquaert – HASA architecten Architect’s rendering of the future cafeteria. © Bart Blancquaert – HASA architecten

" This is a wonderful project that allows us to rehabilitate a major historic monument while fostering job creation in an underprivileged neighbourhood. "

Christophe Dielis, Councilmember for Urban Renewal

The building’s 2 400 m2 will host half a dozen or more start-ups and small businesses, as well as a conference centre. The various phases of the renovation employ an average of 20 workers, and projections estimate a total of about 50 jobs to be created as a result of the activities undertaken at the business hub.

The goal is to transform the old “École des vétérinaires” into a veritable “Espace Lumière”, a bright beacon for new business ventures. Empty and abandoned for over twenty years, the old Veterinary School building, built in 1910 and listed as a historic landmark, is located in the largely disadvantaged Cureghem area of Anderlecht, one of Brussels’ most challenging — and most dynamic — districts.

The Brussels regional government, with help from the European Regional Development Fund, is promoting sustainable economic development in the “Priority Intervention Zone” along the Brussels Canal, and the Anderlecht district is home to several ambitious urban renewal projects.

Sustainable renovation

Plans for the refurbished building include low-energy consumption features. Once the renovation is complete, primary energy consumption (the energy required to heat the building) will be less than 60 KWh/m² per year, which is about 30 % lower than the standard energy consumption for office buildings in Belgium. And the renovation itself boasts eco-friendly credentials, with systematic recycling and reuse of over 80 % of the debris cleared from the site.

Karim Boulmaïz, the project’s technical manager, explains that a delicate balance must be struck between the need for an in-depth, comprehensive refurbishment to improve performance and make the building liveable, and the limitations imposed on any sort of renovation or maintenance work on listed historic sites. The local Council member responsible for renovation projects in the area, Christophe Dielis, echoes this attentiveness to the preservation of heritage and at the same time underlines the goal of supporting local businesses.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for “École des vétérinaires” was EUR 11 548 620, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributed EUR 4 086 000 from the “Brussels Capital Region” Operational Programme for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

Draft date

14/12/2014