Befimmo's ZIN project, winner be.exemplary 2019

15 January 2020

On 15 January 2020,, an administration of the Brussels-Capital Region, awarded Befimmo's ZIN project as the winner of the be.exemplary 2019 in the category "Large private projects".

ZIN, 4 axes of development

Located in the North district, the ZIN project (the redevelopment of the site of the WTC 1 and 2 towers) is being developed over 113,000 m²: 72,500 m² of offices, 5,000 m² of coworking, 111 apartments, 240 hotel rooms, as well as sports, leisure, restaurant and shopping areas. The design was entrusted to architects 51N4E, Jaspers Eyers Architects and AUC. The team is being assisted by experts in engineering, sustainability, circular economy, accessibility and wellbeing. The cleaning and asbestos removal works are in progress. Deconstruction work is expected to begin in mid-2020 after the necessary permits have been obtained. Construction work will continue until mid-2023.

ZIN's 4 main development axes respond particularly well to the challenges of be.exemplary. These include:

- Building the city

In the midst of transition, the North area in Brussels presents enormous potential and great challenges. Developed in the 1970s, the WTC towers no longer meet market expectations. Flexibility of work - in space and time - has become a reality. Office districts must be transformed into collaborative places where people come to work together in ever-changing 'constellations'. The principle of 'building the city' is an integral part of the project design. ZIN will be fully integrated into the existing urban ecosystem and open to the city. The ground floor will be a real, transparent city space, with a greenhouse accessible to the public. The view from the rooftop will complete the ensemble.

- Working, housing, living

A new central volume will connect the two existing towers, creating 14 exceptionally spacious office floors with a clear height of approximately five meters. This vast and voluminous interior space will make it possible to create a green and healthy living environment. On the intermediate floors will be apartments and a hotel. This fusion of functions will create a building where there will always be life, seven days a week. ZIN will fully contribute to the development of a true and new dynamic in the North area.

In March 2019, the Flemish Administration awarded Befimmo the public tender for works to design, build and deliver a building (70,000 m²) in the North area in Brussels. Approximately 3,900 Flemish officials will find in ZIN an inspiring and sustainable new workplace, fully in line with the new ways of working.

- Circular economy

Circularity is a key aspect of the ZIN project. The existing building will be preserved as much as possible.  The underground floors and circulation cores are being retained. The elements that will be demolished will be given new life. Overall, more than 95% of all existing materials and equipment will be preserved, recovered or recycled.

The circular philosophy is not only based on recovery and certification, it also involves a very future-oriented outlook in a long-term vision for the building. The basic structure of the building will be identical for the different functions and will offer a great flexibility. ZIN does not only focus on today’s needs, it can also be adapted to tomorrow's requirements.

- Sustainable design

Finally, an intelligent façade will guarantee comfort in an energy-efficient way. Solar panels on the façades will provide energy and sun protection, and the openable windows will provide fresh air during the day and natural cooling at night.

The roofs of the building and the greenhouse will also be equipped with solar panels. Heat and cooling will be extracted from the ground using a geothermal system, which will cover more than 60% of the energy needs. An exchange of energy between the different functions will further reduce consumption.


be.exemplary aims to stimulate projects that provide an answer to 4 challenges:

- to promote quality architecture and urban planning

- to encourage projects with a social impact

- to address environmental challenges

- to place the project in a cycle of circular economy

be.exemplary rewards exemplary and innovative projects. All the winners are evaluated by the jury according to the attention they give to the different challenges and the coherence of the project with regard to these challenges. The jury of experts consists of the master architect, a representative of, a representative of Brussels Environment and 4 external experts.

16 winners have been nominated and ZIN is one of the 6 winners in the "Large private projects" category out of the 13 projects submitted in this category.

Appreciation of ZIN by be.exemplary

ZIN has convinced the jury of be.exemplary for several reasons:

- The project is located in a neighbourhood that has endured and where diversity was reflected in office blocks built next to housing blocks. ZIN is an opportunity for reconciliation that retains the modernist vision of the building while breaking with the current monolith by adapting it in a way that is both visionary and contemporary.

- The jury was seduced by the cleverness of the cross-section and its great architectural interest. The project also has various other exemplary aspects, including its flexibility, accessibility, governance, water management, biodiversity, building management and circular economy.

- ZIN is also keen to involve commuters, residents and employees to accompany them in this urban regeneration. 

- The project is a great opportunity to become a project of reference in the area. Even if the proportion of housing is not large, it represents an incentive to change paradigms, reflect on the principles of diversity and allow for a new urban intensity.

In short, the jury qualifies ZIN as an exciting program for a return to a real cosmopolitan project in Brussels.

Benoit de Blieck, CEO of Befimmo is delighted with this nomination: "We are particularly pleased to be the winner of this call for projects be.exemplary! ZIN will indeed be a real example in many ways! With ZIN, we are demonstrating a new sustainable way of working and living, as well as a new approach of urban development. It is the result of incredible teamwork, between our own teams and the best architects and consultants. During the design phase, the construction team was brought together on a floor of the existing WTC 1 tower, resulting in a unique co-creation process. The future took shape from all their experiences, making the most of the existing qualities of the site and the neighbourhood.”

Want to know more about our project? Check it out on our website!