“Ron Arad Architects were invited by Wilhelm to design a new shopping mall within the 40,000m2 ‘Mediacite’ development. Situated in Liege, once the world’s foremost centre of steel production and since in economic decline, the building stands out as a symbol of the city’s revitalisation and strives to spearhead the city’s regeneration.
The 350m long mall weaves through the fabric of the refurbished old market centre at one end, through the new two storey building, connecting to the new Belgian national television centre at the other. The design of the roof unites these elements with a complex network of steel roof ribs that undulate through the mall.
The lattice of steel sculpts the volume of the mall beneath, varying both in height and structural depth to form a variety of differing experiences. The steel ribs overhead, mirrored in the floor pattern, draw a sinuous pathway pulling you towards and through each of the zones, revealing diverse vistas that surprise along the way.
As the structure exits the volume of the main building (at the 2 Piazzas and at the link between the old market and new mall) the steel ribs wrap downwards, merging into facade to enclose the building’s envelope. The structure is entirely free-spanning along its length and width, with 200mm wide steel ribs that vary in depth from 1.2m to 300mm, weaving through each other in a deformed grid-like network.
To minimise loadings the complex 3 dimensional form is clad in transparent lightweight ETFE pillows – pneumatic Teflon cushions which allow light to penetrate the roof while moulding themselves to the irregular structure. As the roof gradually transforms into facade the ETFE cladding merges into curved aluminium rain-screen panels and glass.
The project was completed to a highly accelerated programme, with a duration of only 34 months from inception to completion. The total built area for the Mall is 9750m2. With a construction budget of €18.75m the project was delivered for €1920/m2. Construction began in April 2007 and the building was inaugurated in October 2009.” Description of Ron Arad Architects.
Location: Liege, Belgium
Architects: Ron Arad Architects
Project Director: Geoff Crowther
Project Architect: Paul Madden
Design Team: Joel Dunmore, Tuomas Pirinen, Marta Granda, James Foster, Julian Gilhespie
Structural Engineer: Buro Happold
Executive Architect: Jaspers Eyers
Main Contractor: BPC
Steel Roof Contractor: Iemants
Client: Wilhelm & Co.
Area: 9,750 sqm