Mobility Hub

future-proof hybrid parking structure
Our successful pitch for the design of a mobility hub imagines it as a robust and striking beacon at the entrance of the city of Mechelen. Integrating different functions, it pushes the envelope of the “transferium”-typology and kickstarts the transformation of a fragmented post-industrial zone.


Surface area
Kairos - Montreal
  • Archipelago Architects
Landscape design
  • Atelier Ruimtelijk Advies
  • Vogt Landscape Architects
winning competition design

The project site sits at the crossroads of a variety of urban tissues and infrastructures, both existing and planned. The envisaged building here should act like an interface, not only in the way it lets citizens shift smoothly between different modes of transport, but also in how it mediates between the constituent parts of this complicated context.

Our design relates to these surroundings in various ways. Located at one of the main entry roads into the city, the new structure inevitably functions as a landmark, a symbolic signifier marking the border of the city; it provides a culmination point to the future residential Eandis-quarter being developed along the N16 road; as an elevated public space it becomes an observation tower to admire the historic city skyline; and at grade it helps to establish an urban framework for its immediate surroundings.

In a departure from the fine-grained medieval density of the inner-city, we propose a “campus model” in order to understand and organise the peripheric condition. A variety of building blocks and complexes are embedded in an attractive green landscape, the cement which consolidates these standalone entities into a coherent whole.

Mediating time and space

Our mobility hub is the first piece being laid in the jigsaw that is this new neighbourhood. More than a purely static piece of hardware, we like to see it as an intermediary body which is equipped to dynamically negotiate the various forcefields and scale levels of its surroundings: the diverging vectors of roads, bicycle paths and waterways, the existing picturesque building block of Ouwen Dok and the future residential developments.

The building functions as an intermediary in time also, in the sense that its present state is just a snapshot of a design that is conceived to evolve. It is a “robust casco” that is adaptable and flexible. At the moment it already integrates the different functions of shopping, offices and car park. Anticipating a further modal shift, car parking floors are dimensioned to be easily changed to accommodate offices or other programs.

A car park as anchor programme

In our wide-ranging research we considered different options for the overall building morphology. Besides integrating an efficient car parking layout, we wanted the structure to be able to accommodate other functions as well. To this end we carefully studied topics such as optimal floor height, circulation efficiency and ideal floor plate dimensions.

The split level option we finally selected avoids a separate circulation ramp or continuously sloping floor slab, elements which would quickly prove obsolete in case of a change of use. The split level follows the topography of the site and adds an interesting spatiality, opening up vistas across the building structure towards the city. The generous floor to ceiling height allows the future addition of intermediate floors which could be utilised for car parking using automated systems.

The layout divides up the mass of the building into two volumes, generating an elegant configuration that folds itself efficiently into the tricky triangular geometry of the site. We locate the connecting ramps, vertical circulation and light-providing voids in the space between the two volumes: this keeps the floor plates open and flexible, unhindered by excess structures or installations.

The uppermost parking deck is imagined as a publicly accessible event space, a kind of “free-space” to be appropriated by the public, inspired by the roofscape of the iconic and now defunct Parking 58 in Brussels.