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Artificial and natural, at the same time

A new structure snaking through Liege in Belgium attracts 5 million visitors a year and is revitalizing the city centre

Once the world’s foremost centre of steel production, Liege in eastern Belgium has been in economic decline for some time.  Now the audacious downtown Médiacité development – grouping shops, leisure, culture, media and economic activities – is helping to turn things around.

The 350m-long complex weaves through the fabric of the refurbished old market centre at one end, through a two-storey building, and connects to the new Belgian national television centre at the other end.

The design of the free-spanning roof unites these elements with a complex network of steel roof ribs and PVC covers that undulate through the mall. The lattice of steel sculpts the volume of the mall beneath it in varying heights, forming a variety of different spaces and experiences. These steel ribs overhead, mirrored in the floor pattern, draw a sinuous pathway – pulling you towards and through each of the zones, revealing diverse and surprising vistas on the way. The special PVC ceiling revitalizes the movements of this path along its entire length and dresses the centre section with dynamic rhombus shapes.

But Médiacité is more than a daring architectural statement; it is also a triumph in sustainable construction. It is the first BREEAM-certified* building in Belgium and the first shopping and leisure centre in Europe to receive the “Very Good” rating in the new BREEAM Retail 2008 protocol, specifically developed to assess the environmental impact of commercial projects.

Mediacite 01 Mediacite 02  Mediacite 03 

Project: Médiacité shopping & leisure centre
Location: Liege, Belgium
Architects: Ron Arad Architects, UK
Technical ref: PVC Barrisol ceiling
Picture credits: Marc Detiffe, Atom Berg

*BREEAM: the world’s leading design and assessment method for non-domestic sustainable buildings.