LUCA School of Arts

campus for higher education


Surface area
LUCA School of Arts - Dexia Real Estate
  • POLO Architects - Greisch - Coppée
winning competition design
honourable mention Fritz-Höger-Preis
Stijn Bollaert
Toon Grobet
Filip Dujardin

The Brussels campus of the Sint-Lukas school of arts was the result of decades of phased expansion within a block in the densely woven urban fabric of Schaarbeek. The students entered the school via an unremarkable front door of what appeared to be just another town house. Over the years, the school evolved into a chaotic but charming labyrinth with snarled staircases, discrepancy in levels, and passageways hacked through shared walls. It was a place where students could get lost, where they could hide or seclude themselves, where they could carve out a space for themselves in which to create and display art.

Permeable campus

POLO’s design proposal was chosen because it was able to retain the school’s charm and informal nature. No tabula rasa, no overly rational new structure. The design retains several of the most valuable buildings and courtyards. Others were demolished. Two new buildings were added on Paleizenstraat and on Groenstraat. The openings in the facades invite visitors to enter the ‘permeable’ campus, which shows itself as a succession of patios. A ‘delayed entrance’ on Paleizenstraat – you enter and end up right back outdoors again – provides access to the central courtyard.

Suspended walkway

The renewal presented an opportunity to reinforce the topography and the urban landscape of the Senne river valley. The steep slope of the valley – the campus bridges a twelve-metre gap between Paleizenstraat and Groenstraat – had been removed from sight due to the rampant spread of extensions and outbuildings. The backbone of the design is a suspended walkway that connects all the buildings. The walkway also acts as the foyer for students, lecturers and visitors. Situated at ground level to people entering the school along Paleizentraat, it quickly rises above the campus, which is situated lower down. The suspended walkway offers both an overview and orientation. By sinking some courtyards below ground level – like the outdoor space for the sculpture studio – the exceptional topography is ‘dramatized’ even further. The valley has been restored to its original identity and is once more recognizable as such.

Associated themes