Architecture students from Nottingham Trent and the Royal College of Art on the Belgium shopping centre

About the scheme:

This is Ron Arad Associates’ Médiacité shopping and entertainment centre in Liège, Belgium. The 40,000m² €100m (£91m) development, includes piazzas and accessible roof spaces. Médiacité, which also contains a production centre for the national TV station, will be the first shopping centre in Belgium to receive BREEAM sustainability certification.

Adam Smith’s verdict:

I’m a big fan of Ron Arad so am likely to be biased. The highly adventurous form and simple yet maverick use of red guarantees the building to become an urban landmark. It’s hard to tell the level of input from the Jasper-Eyers architectural team, but looking at their website, I speculate that it was in the detailing, rather than the form.

It would be good to know more from Arad about how the form was derived and why: it risks looking whimsical and blobby but probably has some interested sculptural intent.

Igor Barteczko’s verdict:

The Google-Box building resembles a river of activity, which links urban tissue together in a biological style. It does this in energy-efficient ways by employment of energy governing strategies which help to minimise energy use, and by making use of what is given by the environment.

It aims to rehabilitate the central city economically and culturally, and forms a strong icon of green infrastructure within the broader region.

Comparing it to conventional shopping centres of similar magnitude, the unique feature in the Médiacité is that it focuses on linking urban areas together in order to maximise freedom of access to varied activities within the city and to manage these activities in an environment that is in accordance with green ideals.

Semi reflective ETFE cushions, rainwater collection, advanced materials, governed energy access for internal shops and services are a few ways which allow this building to be sustainable.

It is, however, its capacity to serve other buildings with which it connects that truly deserves it to be BREEAM environmentally accredited. It’s not only a building that has managed to control its own consumption but also one that gives something back to the grid, and help support others.

The building is biological in nature, is symbiotic, and could be understood metaphorically as a reverse parasite. Like an artery it stretches and curves, serving the city environment, linking key city locations together, and helping people feel connected within a lively and productive environment.