OSO Studio

Palais de Justice . Bruxelles

OSO Studio . + architizer

As a continuation of ancient national machinery, the courthouse should be described as such an institution: Its mission consists in providing true freedom through invisible but inviolable sanction; instead of the form that must be represented by a gigantic volume, today’s national justice should be represented with openness and transparency. PRESERVATION To respect and preserve the old courthouse, the building should be preserved intact without any apparent change; interior re-programming will be made according its spatial potential. SHIFT To accommodate needed programs, all actual judicial functions will be shifted into a new courthouse --- not extension, but totally separated from the old one --- sites at the plaza poelaert, neighbor to old court, the monument of world war will be moved to the south at the same time. Former courthouse will change to a new art and cultural complex. It has been long time that the courthouse building deeply rooted in the city, new city events --- such as exhibitions, conferences, art performance, small concert, open forums, shops --- will be contained tolerantly by it with appended replaceable “event boxes” that can provide functional flexibilities for future use. PROGRAMS The building is lifted from ground, release the plaza poelaert and reform it serves as a grand hall for the courthouse; a gateway into a series of five departments; a plaza for communal activities; and an open “city living room”. What above it are the large rooms and courtrooms of the court of cassation; court of appeal; and court of assize; escalators transport crowds to cantilevered entry hall, the silhouettes of overhangs’ bottom was punched out to a various complex, a decreasing volume in 4X4M modular system from the top down, expose courthouse’s public sector to the city, emphasize its transparency, reduce the repression, provide a multivariate shelter for the “city living room”. All other needed programs of the courthouse, (court of cassation, court of appeal, public prosecutor’s offices, court of assize and lawyers’ bars) are stacked in a regular volume by the principal of giving the priority to the functions, connected in vertical direction, divided by floors. Courthouse’s public and private programs are organized by a vertical sequence, iris in an unobstructed atrium, realize a clarified division and remain the autonomy for each department. The public route and private route are separated; they each have an individual vertical circulation. FACADES The façade is a bearing shear wall system, supporting the building at four sides and presents a rigid facade grid, the determination of sizes of windows are adopted to partial stress change. The windows grid is filled carefully in with glass panels, U shape glass, holes and wall according the plan and functions inside. With a series of irregular descending shrinking, the façade creates a super mixture of Piranesi’s relic chimera, standard office building, and contemporary national machine --- a unique urban interface and iconography of justice, reflect the old courthouse and shows an unique image of national legal sector. The windows operated efficient for views, sunlight and ventilation, the holes of façade on ground and its intricate shape makes the grand hall of courthouse and city can be presented simultaneously; makes the plaza unimpeded; and finally, makes the building become a real modern edition image of that only presented in ancient sketches, that’s the best annotate for courthouse’s sacred duty and tradition of public facilities in contextual way.

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