Press release - Building for future generations

Howest tops out future campus in Bruges

On Tuesday 23 May, Howest and contractor MBG topped out the new Bruges Station campus. This traditionally happens when the highest point of the building structure is reached. “The construction/refurbishment works are on schedule. In September 2024, 5,000 students will move into the campus of the future,” says general manager Lode De Geyter.

The topping out ceremony of a new house is a tradition that goes back to the Middle Ages and symbolises prosperity, in the hope that the house may become as stable, big and long lasting as a tree. It is also the moment when the contractor thanks his builders for the work done. Howest and the Antwerp-based principal contractor MBG did not want to let this special event pass unnoticed.

I am very proud that MBG got the chance to realise this wonderful project for HOWEST. The project is special because it involves the refurbishment of an existing property as well as the construction of an entirely new building, with the aim of making it as sustainable and energy-neutral as possible. I would like to thank HOWEST for the great partnership. We appreciate it that we were able to share, as a true partner, ideas about the design of the building in all its aspects. I would like to thank all the staff, partners and the designers who work in full BIM. Thanks to real teamwork between all the people involved, the works can be carried out in a well-coordinated way and perfectly on schedule.” - Luc Stuyck, General Manager of MBG.

Landmark at the station

The Howest campus in Bruges is realised in two phases: the refurbishment of the existing buildings and the construction of the new building. Together they will form one integrated campus. With its sloping roofs, the main building will be a landmark at the station in Bruges. The campus is designed to accommodate 5,200 students in total, and can be extended according to the actual growth.

The design allows easy circulation and provides for an interesting outdoor area that will be pedestrian-friendly. The modern classrooms and workshops are combined with a lawn where students can relax, an extended beech wood and roof gardens with plenty of greenery. “All these aspects will make Bruges Station an academic campus of the future, entirely in keeping with our ‘anticipating the future’ philosophy,” says general manager Lode De Geyter.

Absolute sustainability

The new buildings are Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB) and are heated 80% of the year with renewable energy sources. There is also considerable focus on water (re)use. All wastewater is treated on site and reused - together with buffered rainwater - for flushing, cleaning and hosing. In this way, mains water is only used for cooking, drinking and washing hands. The building in Bruges is therefore entirely circular. Geothermal heat is used nearly all year round for heating and cooling. Other fuels will only be used during the coldest periods of the year. There is room for extension of the geothermal heat pipes, so that the whole campus can eventually be heated in this way.

Techniques play an important part in making the Howest campus sustainable, circular and virtually energy neutral. We are pleased that we were able to share ideas with the client right from the start and together raise the building to a higher standard. All techniques contractors belong to the VMA group, which allowed us to think ‘together’ about and work on this special academic campus in a well-coordinated and dynamic way.” - Joachim Agneessens, Regional Director Operations Electro at VMA.

Ready for students in 2024

The works, which began in the autumn of 2022, are well on schedule. “This means that part of the buildings can begin to be used as early as January 2024,” says buildings director Dieter Dobbelaere. “At the opening of the new academic year in September 2024, we will be able to welcome virtually all the students of Howest Bruges.

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