A tremendous human adventure!
An industrial wasteland of more than 6.5 hectares transformed into a new and vibrant district, 160,000 m² total floor area (of which nearly 45.313 m² GLA), 124 stores (some of which now have a presence for the first time in Wallonia, or indeed in Belgium) some 1,200 jobs created, first Breeam certification awarded in our country for an efficiently constructed building, partnership with top professionals (headed by the architect-designer Ron Arad),… : these are some of the “highlights” of Médiacité, a new way of envisioning and remodelling the city,
but above all, an exceptional human and architectural adventure”, as Peter Wilhelm, CEO of the Group Wilhelm & Co., stresses. A multi-functional complex combining commerce, leisure, culture, media and economic activity, Médiacité has achieved the tremendous feat of making the old deprived Liège district of Longdoz an attractive place to visit, and it has attracted 5.3 million customers and visitors the first year. Apart from the undeniable audacity of its architecture and urban planning that from now on will be its “signature”,
Médiacité is unique because of another pioneering achievement for a building in this country: the prestigious and highly-coveted Breeam certification, with, what is more, a “very good” mention. “Nowadays seen as a real “must”, this international standard of reference particularly takes into account the building’s environmental footprint during the whole of its lifetime,” continues the head of Wilhelm & Co.
Bold architecture, stores never seen in Belgium before
To design and create Médiacité, the promoter-developer had no hesitation in bringing together highly skilled experts from all over Europe, leaders in their respective fields. Among them the architect-designer Ron Arad, the Jaspers-Eyers architectural practice, civil engineers TPF, and Buro Happold from London, and, internally, the Wilhelm & Co Architecture & Design unit, a distinctive arm of the firm led by Nicole Van den Plas.
A strong architectural image that shines out over the whole Longdoz district, and has attracted an impressive number of stores, most of them new to the site. It’s notably the case with “newcomers” to Wallonia (such as McGregor and Gaastra), indeed to Belgium: the unstoppable European “fashion” chain Primark (which has taken on 160 staff!) and one of the leading European “lifestyle” brands, Tom Tailor.
“Altogether, 45,313 m² GLA have been built, almost tripling the floor area of the old Longdoz arcade, dedicated to retail, catering and leisure, without forgetting the creation of 2,350 underground parking spaces managed by Gespark (subsidiary owned 50-50 by Parking Cathédrale/Wilhelm & Co)”, says Jean-Michel Despaux, managing director of development at Wilhelm & Co Group. “As of today, Médiacité has directly created 1,200 jobs. As for its customer catchment area, it goes far beyond the centre of the Ardennes capital and the Liège region to extend over a large part of Wallonia and the Meuse-Rhine Euro-region and its million potential customers.”
Leaving nothing to chance, Wilhelm & Co entrusted the management of its new commercial complex to its subsidiary, Gesmall, and its director Xavier Leloup (who is particularly known from his 13 years at the head of City 2).
The puzzle is coming together. After the Shopping Centre and Pôle Image, RTBF has inaugurated its new and largest studio in Wallonia in a magnificent new building – Media Rives, and a brand new Olympic ice skating rink (built by the City of Liège) has been opened since December 2012. In the months to come, Médiacité will continue to expand with a 6-screen cinema.
Summing up, Peter Wilhelm says: “For the originality of its building approach, its architectural durability, the international store names it has been able to attract, its future development and its total integration into a district it has reshaped and a city it contributes to revitalising, Médiacité is, for all who have taken part in the project, a tremendous human adventure!”
Perfectly suited to commercial centres, this international certification is the oldest and most widely-used reference throughout the world, the highest standard in terms of sustainable construction. It has become the de facto standard evaluation method to assess a building’s environmental performance. “Of around thirty pilot projects, Médiacité is one of the first in Europe and the first in Belgium to be awarded the certification at the design stage,” explained BRE Global, the independent body that awarded this distinction to Médiacité.
A distinction that will not stop Wilhelm & Co from proving, as it has committed to doing, that the building’s energy performance is still completely valid.
In 2010, Wilhelm & Co was granted 2 awards by the Belgian-Luxembourg Council of Shopping Centers: Médiacité was named the “Best New Shopping Center 2010″ and it was granted the “Sustainability” award, for its durable development.