Agora Urban Resort
New mixed use development including hotel, wellness centre, retail and apartments
The AGORA project marks the filling-in of one of the last gaps in the pedestrian precinct in the centre of Louvain-la-Neuve. The challenges associated with blending in with existing features – tunnels, car parks, pedestrian zones, etc. – have been solved in a comprehensive design.
The already-developed part had to deal with one major constraint: the course of the underground road which is incompatible with the desired course of the pedestrian precinct.
As a result of this constraint, a number of solutions have been put forward, creating public areas:
- The creation of a roundabout at the entrance to the tunnel, topped by a cylindrical building;
- The development of an urbanised zone between the GrandPlace and the lake, creating a public area surrounding the Aula Magna.
- The extension of the Rue de l’Hocaille, interlinking Hocaille and the path around the lake.
These “empty spaces” led to the creation of two zones, one closed to the centre, the other open to the lake. While the first one achieves urban continuity, the second allows greater landscaping alongside the lake.
The new public areas have been the subject of much research into ways of preserving the original planning concepts, but also of correcting certain undesirable effects (such as the abandonment of the plans for a museum linked to the Aula which would have caused unacceptable differences in levels).
In the specific LLN context, the energy challenges involved getting as close as possible to the passive standard for the majority of buildings planned without actually going for energy labelling, as this would not have been possible for certain parts of the project due to the lack of external factors such as natural shading or to major internal factors such as the swimming pool. The project was the subject of a detailed study conducted by Marticiel. This proposed an energy performance level above that required in 2014, the year in which the applications for planning permission were filed.
The environmental contribution also stems from the wide variety that the project brings to the city and to completing the original urbanisation vision, at long last linking Hocaille to the City by three distinct routes.
Mobility aspects were also the subject of specific measures allowing the number of parking spaces and thus car traffic to be reduced. Particular attention will also be paid to creating gardens in the two zones.
Due to its complexity, the project required three distinct planning permissions.