Plans to redevelop Leuven's old Town Hall, Source: City of Leuven

Gallery: Leuven wants to redevelop the old Town Hall as a barrier-free space

Gallery: Leuven wants to redevelop the old Town Hall as a barrier-free space

The building is one of the architectural points of pride in the Belgian city

Yesterday, authorities in Leuven, Belgium, announced that they are ready to move forward with transforming the old Town Hall, one of the points of pride in Leuven architecture, into a museum and cultural space. The project takes into account all the heritage of the complex with its different period-specific iterations and reimagines it as a gateway for citizens to the history of the city.

According to a municipal statement, the preliminary design for the project has now been completed, after an intensive study process. Through the study, the team will be able to form informative decisions on the future use of specific spaces in the building, while also allowing for architectural interventions that can make it accessible for people with disabilities.

Moreover, apart from accessibility, local authorities are looking into the idea of adding sustainable energy, making the old Town Hall as carbon efficient as possible. This is a particular challenge, as both the interior and the exterior of the building need to be preserved to maintain a claim to historical authenticity.

The architectural pride of Leuven

The old Town Hall in Leuven was constructed between 1448 and 1469 and is famous for its late Gothic and lace-like decorative façade. The building is located on the Grote Markt (Main Market) square and has been at the heart of the city for centuries.

It first went through much-needed renovations in the 19th century, however, the building was badly damaged during World War I and World War II. The final restoration was completed in 1983, however, the old Town Hall still needed to be adapted to fit modern-day standards.

As Mayor Mouhamed Ridouani explained in a press release by the city, the design team faced a major challenge to transform this historic monument into an open house with many functions, accessible to everyone. At the same time, the Town Hall also needs to be a place where citizens can discover stories about Leuven's past and future.

Apart from museum functions, it will also host conference rooms where residents and experts can discuss urban and social challenges. Additionally, the building will also offer a unique balcony view of the Grote Markt, as well as a serene inner garden - the Vrijthof.

In terms of energy efficiency, it will need the best roof insulation, to help conserve energy, while also having a comprehensive ground cooling and heating system. Also, officials plan to install a solar collector under the roof slates to harness the heat of the sun.



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