Dutch firm UNStudio has completed a mixed-use scheme, its first project in Belgium.

Called Avenue de la Toison d’O, it has been designed for ProWinko and in collaboration with Jaspers-Eyers Architects.

The project is situated between Porte Louise and Port de Namur gates in Brussels and has been designed as a hybridisation of a traditional building-block typology, and a mixed-use development with a retail podium.

Integrating the urban fabric of its surroundings, the project combines retail and residential units.

"Generously proportioned balconies are designed to offer a more tranquil experience of city life."

Le Toison d’Or includes 72 apartments between 50 and 750m²; 13,000m² of commercial space, a 1,040m² crèche, 330 parking spaces and an elevated city garden of 2,950m².

The façade of Le Toison d’Or has been broken up in terms of texture, depth and has a repeating rhythm of a series of curved vertical frames in order to avoid the monolithic qualities common to block structures.

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In addition to facilitating the large display windows of the retail units, the frames also serve to enclose the balconies of the apartments on the upper floors.

UNStudio principal Ben van Berkel said: "It was important that the retail units be as open and light as possible. We wanted to contrast this with the apparent solidity of the upper floors, to create the illusion that the vertical balloon-like frames were carrying the building; as if the whole block almost has the potential to float above the avenue."

As against the vertical articulation of the street facade, the facades surrounding the elevated courtyard garden have a horizontal arrangement. Generously proportioned balconies are designed to offer a more tranquil experience of city life.

The apartments in Le Toison d’Or differ in size, from small to large. In order to ensure high levels of daylight in the interiors, the floor to ceiling heights reach at least 2.7 metres in living areas. For the apartments placed along the Avenue de la Toison d’Or, this height reaches more than 3 metres.

Open kitchens with large furniture elements offer an informal entertaining space.

Le Toison d’Or also has thermic isolation of the façade, acoustic insulation, an inventive cogeneration installation system for both the apartments and the retail units as well as glass-fiber reinforced concrete.