Venue Building Middelkerke, Belgium

ZJA, DELVA, OZ and Bureau Bouwtechniek

The soul of the design resides in its intimate integration with the landscape, the transformation of the town centre into one that is pedestrian friendly and the introduction of a landmark building that combines public space, casino, hotel, restaurant, multifunctional event space and underground parking garage. All this while reinforcing the sea dike providing Middelkerke with its needed security, urban renewal and an economic impetus. A large public space is created by moving the dike further onto the beach, creating an extension of the existing Epernay square while integrating it in the landscape. An underground parking garage ensures a car free zone on street level.

Connecting the town, the square and the beach is a huge artificial dune in which the casino, the public hall for concerts and exhibitions and restaurant are located. They are built underneath the extension of the public space, but all have transparent facades and spectacular views. The event space serves as a social and cultural meeting point for Middelkerke; a new living room for the town.

Sea lyme grass, water elements and sand gullies flowing towards the beach simulate a dune experience. The new public space, with the climb to the green square on top of the dune is a tourist attraction in its own right. Attached to it is the beach hotel with its enigmatic sculptural silhouette, an understated icon with an open grid of curved beams in accoya wood. The design optimizes energy, waste-management and production processes, and applies recyclable materials where possible.