Architectural development of an urban plan by West 8

'Twist' is the winning proposal of the architects ZJA for the architectural redevelopment of the railway zone in Hasselt, Belgium (urban plan by West 8). Main components of the plan are an elevated park (the Esplanade), an elongated building (the Strip) and an office-tower with a twisting facade (the Twist).

In the master plan of West 8 the movement of trains, buses, cars, cyclists and pedestrians is organised on two different levels. The public space consists of a mix of squares and courtyards, building types which are common in the centre of Hasselt. The station square is surrounded by public facilities such as restaurants, shops and information services.

A bus station is located in front of the train station with transparent, modern, glass bus stops under green trees. Stairs and escalators link the station square with the Esplanade: an elevated park on top of a car park. The Esplanade adds an extra level that leads pedestrians over the bus tracks and connects cyclists and pedestrians further to the platforms and railways.

The Strip, an elongated block, adds to the station area a mix of functions ensuring activity during both daytime and nighttime. A part of this block is a hotel with its entrance on the Esplanade and a Babylonian garden on the rooftop. The hotel has furthermore a double-skin facade in order to avoid the high noise-level produced by trains and buses. The glass layers are shuttered against the (afternoon) heat and assure privacy for the guests.

In front of the station there is a triangular area that has been designated for a large building with a congress-centre, offices, restaurants, shops and a car park. We designed an icon: a twisted office-block integrating the most important directions in this area. The base of the tower is related to the directions of the Esplanade and the station square, the top faces the city-centre.

The car park is currently under construction: the existing car park will be extended towards the station square and will have a new entrance.