For decades, he is one of the best known and most successful architects in the world. Daniel Libeskind doesn’t design his projects according to a certain style, but develops them into a context from a collection of different statements and impulses. Emotions are also an essential part in the work of Libeskind. He therefore insists that he must fall in love with a location to a certain extent before developing a new project. This was probably the case with Mons in Belgium: The architect and designer has created a new convention center for the European Capital of Culture 2015, whose striking front is reminiscent of a huge ship.
Vincent Van Gogh made the decision to become an artist in this Walloon city and Orlando di Lasso composed his music in Mons. Inspired by the history of the place itself, Libeskind decided to create something unique that is artful at the same time. He was inspired by the river “Haine”', which previously was the basis for the economic blossoming of this former trading town and which seems to defy the strong waves of urban development today.
The winding river is symbolically reflected in the facade of the convention center. It consists of two different parts, intertwined by Libeskind like ribbons. The outer band is made of black locust wood and is bright and welcoming. The inner facade band made of anodized aluminum seems to be much more dynamic. The construction is crowned by a structure in the upper floor that is pointing like an arrow toward the historic center of the town and is reminiscent of a ship’s bow. Libeskind intended this construction to give visitors the opportunity to overlook the World Heritage Site of Mons from the convention center: the belfry tower of the cathedral. The building, which is located between the historical center and the new district of Mons, was to symbolically unite the residents of both districts.
The regional reference is part of the sustainability concept of Libeskind: Diagonal bands of Belgian bluestone are embedded in the forecourt, which are again found inside the building. The space allocation plan is composed of three auditoriums with a total of 800 seats, a multi-functional event hall, 16 smaller conference rooms, offices and a restaurant. The public baths feature the designs of another world-renowned architect and designer: Starck 3 is a diverse bathroom program created by Philippe Starck for Duravit. Toilets and washbasins of the ceramics series integrate with the design of the convention center.