Antwerp, Tuesday 24 October 2023. In the presence of Antwerp mayor Bart De Wever, a symbolic foundation stone was laid today for Project Meir. For this project, JV BESIX-WYCOR is building a mixed new construction and renovation project which will result in a sustainable campus for the Karel de Grote Hogeschool and a prestigious retail complex for property developer Meir Corner. By 2026, the project should be ready to welcome 6,000 students and 650 KdG Hogeschool employees, as well as enthusiastic shoppers.
Clients KdG and Meir Corner (partnership between Tans Urban Landmarks and Urbicoon) chose to plant two trees as a symbolic foundation stone. This immediately highlights the project's sustainability ambitions. Also in attendance were architects Binst Architects, in collaboration with VK Architects & Engineers, and B-architecten/aNNo, together with representatives of the City of Antwerp, as well as Mark Beyst, General Manager of BESIX Belgium-Luxembourg and Johan Van der Stadt, General Manager of WYCOR.
For this mixed construction and renovation project at this unique location - one of the most vibrant shopping streets in our country - JV BESIX-WYCOR is constructing 3 new buildings and renovating 3 existing ones, in order to create a 29,000 m² higher education campus and a 10,000 m² retail space. The combination of renovation and new construction is not an easy task. Priority is given to preserving the heritage, while the new buildings will be seamlessly integrated with the surrounding historical buildings. To this end, characteristic stately façades are preserved, along with the high ceilings, authentic glass panes and brutalist architecture from 1970.
The JV BESIX-WYCOR was not formed at random. The combination of BESIX's expertise in both prestigious renovation projects and sustainable new construction projects and WYCOR's experience in interior finishing supported by their personalised production facilities for interior and exterior joinery creates a powerful partnership. While BESIX is responsible for the structural works and the overall organisation of the works, WYCOR provides the interior finishing and wooden exterior joinery. Besides all the internal walls, thermal and acoustic insulation, floor finishing and ceilings, WYCOR will also work in their own workshops in Wetteren to restore the historic wooden windows to be preserved and to produce the new windows according to the historic model and the +/- 800 interior doors.
Due to limited storage space and the bustling shopping street, the JV BESIX-WYCOR team faces significant logistical challenges. Meticulous cooperation and a team with extra attention to planning and managing the supply and removal of materials are the keys to success here. The central design and technical planning departments of both companies also assist JV BESIX-WYCOR with technological services such as BIM. On the site itself, the team applies the LEAN planning method, a structured and visual way of working together that creates value, minimises errors and prevents waste. On 5 October, JV BESIX-WYCOR already started the first phase of works: digging a 6-metre-deep construction pit to pour the foundations.
JV BESIX-Wycor can draw on combined extensive experience to realise the project's sustainability ambitions. The retail section was designed with an eye on a BREEAM Excellent certificate, while the performance level Beter of GRO, the new sustainability meter of the Flemish government, is the target for the campus. To achieve this, JV BESIX-WYCOR is integrating sustainable building materials, low-energy systems, solar panels, heat pumps and advanced waste management systems into the project. On the one hand, the contractor preserves existing parts of the complex, reducing the need for new materials. On the other hand, it carefully dismantles certain materials so that they can be reused elsewhere. The icing on the cake is the green patio on the second floor and the roof garden. The latter is not only a pleasant meeting place for future users, but also reduces greenhouse gas emissions and improves insulation, reducing heating and cooling costs.
With Antwerp-Central and several metro and bus stops within walking distance, the project puts sustainable and multimodal mobility centre stage. To further encourage environmentally friendly modes of transport, the project also provides two spacious bicycle parking facilities with a total capacity of more than 1,000 bicycles.
“After resounding references in Antwerp such as the DPG Media headquarters, Cadiz (Het Eilandje), the Park Tower, Post X and the recently finished Local Police Tower, BESIX is proud to add another reference in this metropolis to its trackrecord. With our unwavering commitment to making projects as sustainable as possible and our extensive experience in doing so, this project is fully in line with BESIX's DNA to create sustainable solutions for a better world. We look forward to delivering a project in 2026 that both the clients and the people of Antwerp can be proud of.” Mark Beyst, General Manager BESIX Belgium-Luxembourg
“Participating in a major construction project requires not only courage and dedication, but also the vision to make the impossible possible. As specialists in finishing, we strive for perfection in every detail. Our craftsmen embrace tradition, yet with an eye for innovation and sustainability. It is with a sense of immense pride that we participate in this grand and prestigious construction project. It is not only a reflection of our skills and dedication, but also a confirmation of our perseverance, cooperation and excellence.” Johan Van der Stadt, General Director WYCOR
BESIX is a leading Belgian Group, based in Brussels and active since 1909. Today, the Group operates in 25 countries and on 5 continents, in the construction, real estate development and concessions sectors. The Group's engineering division enables BESIX to carry out complex and unique projects, especially in terms of technical and environmental aspects. BESIX and its subsidiaries have often been pioneers in the energy performance of buildings. In Paris, Brussels and Rotterdam, the Group has contributed to the design and construction of buildings meeting the highest environmental certifications (BREEAM, LEED, Passive Building, Cradle-to-Cradle, etc.) and contributing to the improvement of standards in the sector.
WYCOR is a solid, competitive company with more than 40 years of experience. The company focuses on the public as well as the industrial and service sectors. Their highly personalised services and innovative production facilities (custom-made furniture, interior and exterior joinery) are an absolute added value for total projects in renovation and new construction. An experienced team of project managers, assisted by craftsmen and engineers, guarantees the total relief of their customers.