In the spring of 2018, the City of Bruges commissioned the construction of a new trade fair and convention centre to ‘Beursgenootschap Souto de Moura - META – CFE’. The new building will be located in the historical city centre, within easy walking distance from most hotels and sights. It will open its doors at the end of 2021.
For the realization of this project, the City opted for a design-build project delivery system. This means that a full team will be responsible not only for the design, but also for the realization of the project, within the agreed budget of 40 million euros and within the agreed period. The team is composed of at least a developer, an architect and a contractor. In May 2018, when the tendering procedure was completed, the project was commissioned to Beursgenootschap Souto de Moura – META – CFA. At the same time, the city council decided to keep the management of the new centre in-house.
Burgomaster Dirk De fauw: “The facilities will be top notch, which will allow us to position Bruges as a top destination for conferences. This will of course also be beneficial to the local tourism industry.”
A deliberate choice was made to build a modest-looking public building, whose functionality is fully supported by the architecture. Alderman of Tourism Philip Pierins: “The design of the winning team shows respect for the city in that it allows Bruges to remain true to itself. The architecture is plain but very functional, supporting the needs of the users.”
The outside walls will be built with reclaimed bricks, which will give the building a typical Bruges look. The catering room on the top floor will offer magnificent views of the historical city centre.
The trade fair section will measure 4 500m². The roof construction ensures ample direct daylight, creating pleasant natural lighting conditions in the hall. Glass sliding doors on three sides of the building can be opened up to their full width.
The conference section has a capacity of up to 500 attendants. The ‘three chairs’-principle will be applied, which means that every attendant will have a chair in the plenary hall, one in the catering area and one in the break-out rooms. All facilities will be available: a plenary hall with – among other things – 500 retractable seats, a large foyer, poster areas, eight modular break-out rooms and a catering area on the top floor offering magnificent views of the city. There is ample flexibility for various conference setups for small meetings as well as for large international conferences.
“The unique location of this new state-of-the-art building, in the very heart of a Unesco World Heritage City and within walking distance from all central hotels, restaurants and attractions is an absolute unique selling point. All rooms can be used in flexible formats (plug & play), in order to respond optimally to the specific wishes of organizers. The ingenious architecture ensures a smooth logistical flow, even when several events take place simultaneously. We are eagerly looking forward to the inauguration of the building in the autumn of 2021” says Visit Bruges Convention Bureau’s Sales Manager Sarah Cornand. The construction works will start on 16 September 2019.
Beursgenootschap Souto de Moura - META – CFE
Eduardo Souto de Moura (Porto, °1952) is a renowned Portuguese architect, who received the prestigious Pritzker architecture prize from the hands of Barack Obama in 2011. He is one of the professors at the Porto School of Architecture and a student/friend of Álvaro Siza Vieira, who is also a Portuguese architect and recipient of a Pritzker prize. His works are simple in structure, stylish and modernist but also genuinely sensitive.
The design proposal was the result of a close and fruitful collaboration between META Architectuurbureau, Souto de Moura and developer CFE.
Scoop: virtual tour of the new Trade Fair and Convention Centre
Curious to see what the new Trade Fair and Convention Centre will look like? Click here to have a look inside the building. You can virtually walk from one room to the other and discover the different setups in 360°.