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Campus Diepenbeek to receive impressive gateway

The design for the gateway of Campus Diepenbeek has been revealed. Following an open call organized by POM Limburg in collaboration with the Flemish Master Builder, the Paris-based architectural firm Studio Muoto emerged as the winner of the selection process.

The Diepenbeek campus has been undergoing transition for some time. The master plan developed by POM Limburg in collaboration with various partners in recent years is taking on increasingly tangible form. Alongside the educational campus, which includes UHasselt, PXL, and UCLL, the Construction Campus and the Health Campus are the main building blocks. Deputy for Economy and Chairman of POM Limburg, Tom Vandeput, said, “The gateway is part of the Health Campus but primarily serves as the face of the campus to the outside world. It must thus be a literal reflection of the towering ambitions of the site, and the winning design has absolutely achieved that.” Alongside the gateway building, the prominent parking structure will also serve as a landmark for the entire campus. “To give the site a cross-border appeal, we refer to the campus as Limburg DC, with DC standing for Diepenbeek Campus.”

Over the past few months, POM Limburg and UHasselt, together with the Flemish Master Builder, sought an architectural firm. From around twenty submissions, the design by Studio Muoto from Paris and the Flemish firm Tab Architects emerged as the best in the selection process. Both firms boast impressive portfolios. For instance, Studio Muoto designed the “Lieu de Vie,” the first building on the new Parisian university campus in Saclay; a task closely resembling Limburg DC. The firm, led by Frenchman Gilles Delalex and Belgian Yves Moreau, views architecture as a starting point rather than an end goal. They are known for their minimalist structures, which evolve over time and often combine different activities. ‘Muoto’ is Finnish for ‘shape’. Additionally, the architects are heavily involved in education and research. The second firm, Tab Architects from Ghent, is a young, promising collective involved in projects such as the extensive renovation of the Jewish Museum in Brussels. The Rotterdam-based landscape firm OTO is also involved and is responsible for the environmental design.

Recognizability and identity were key criteria during the selection process. Tom Vandeput stated, “We want to strengthen the campus feeling in Diepenbeek. The winning design exudes a clearly identifiable, new, and strong identity. Thanks to the inviting nature of the cylindrical buildings, visitors are warmly welcomed. Furthermore, numerous meeting places are provided. These encounters foster collaboration and cross-pollination between disciplines, which is, not coincidentally, the essence of the campus.” Sustainability was also emphasized. “The new buildings will be exemplars of sustainability: they will be energy-positive, adaptable, and water-neutral.”

The entire gateway consists of an ensemble of two large, round towers. In addition to the actual gateway building, a parking facility with around 500 spaces, bicycle racks, small shops, and an inner garden will be constructed. The gateway building itself will house an open innovation hub for healthcare, and shared facilities for campus residents, including offices, meeting rooms, and a restaurant. Health Campus manager Roeland Buckinx stated, “This gateway building is a significant step in our lofty ambitions. It will be a beacon location where companies, educational institutions, and healthcare stakeholders collaborate to improve our healthcare, from innovative ideas to implementation.”

UHasselt will play a central role in the open innovation hub for healthcare. Bernard Vanheusden, Rector of UHasselt, said, “In the gateway building, we will further develop our research within our new master’s programs in healthcare. This place offers the opportunity to bring together people from diverse disciplines and address the challenges in the healthcare sector as efficiently as possible. As a civic university that aims to use its knowledge to make society smarter, more agile, and better, we are particularly looking forward to the many collaborations with the healthcare sector made possible by this gateway building.”

In the coming months, the design will be further refined in collaboration with the firms. Tom Vandeput said, “With this award, we opt for an experienced team and a strong concept. Over the next few months, that concept will be polished further in a design process. Early next year, we will bring on board a contractor who will work in a construction team with the architect to further optimize the design. Our ambition is to lay the first stone in 2024.”


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