Knowledge center of the province of Liège in Bavaria: a technology hub at the service of the environment

With the construction of this glass and steel giant at the entrance to the city, the Province of Liège wanted to make a strong statement, both architecturally and urbanistically, but also ecologically. The architectural ambition of the Pôle des Savoirs allows him, through his mere presence, to embody the redevelopment of an entire neighborhood. Fully glazed, the building opens up to the city and connects to the entire Bavaria block. This desire for very bright rooms is balanced by the sun protection systems that breathe life into the whole. The “double skin” is the most visible aspect of this device.

On the Boulevard de la Constitution side, a 15 meter high cantilever towers over the public space and anchors the Pôle des Savoirs in the landscape. More broadly, the immediate area, currently composed of apartments under construction, the completely renovated boulevard or the music academy, will be enhanced by this new neighbor, also connected to the nearby derivation.

In addition to the spectacular and modern aspect of this infrastructure designed by the architects of the Province of Liège, the Pôle des Savoirs embodies a veritable catalog of technologies and facilities related to environmental issues. Geothermal energy on aquifers, photovoltaic panels, green roofs and combating urban heat islands, rainwater recovery, mobility, intelligent LED lighting, use of recyclable materials, insulation and airtightness close to passive house (or passive building) performance or even centralized technical management.

geothermal energy

The process consists of taking water directly from groundwater and passing it through a heat exchanger to extract the calories before injecting it back into the ground. Thanks to the year-round constant groundwater temperature (approx. 12°C), you can enjoy warmth in winter and coolness in summer. This system therefore makes it possible to significantly reduce or even eliminate the use of traditional techniques and in particular of particularly energy-intensive air conditioning systems. “This heating and cooling system should be particularly efficient and innovative using a geothermal heat pump with pumps and injection into the groundwater table.” emphasizes the province of Liège. Although widely implemented in France and the Netherlands, this is an innovative project in Wallonia, as on May 6, 2019, the province of Liège received the first-ever environmental permit to operate such a facility.

A geothermal system ©Province of Liège

Green roof

In addition, a 190 kWp photovoltaic system is placed on the roof of the building. It can produce a total of 165 MWh annually, or the consumption of 40 households, covering 25% of building needs, be it for smart LED lighting or geothermal heating.

The roofs will also be greened to counteract heat islands and the loss of biodiversity in the city. “They increase thermal and acoustic insulation, protect against summer overheating and increase the life of the waterproof membrane of the roof, on which urban beehives are also installed.”, explains the province. Speaking of rainwaterthey are recovered in a cistern, in particular to feed the sanitary systems of the building”.

After all, all the technologies concentrated in the Knowledge Center are controlled centrally,”which enables both global management and energy savings”. Coupled with presence detectors, large-area LED lighting”enables the combination of efficiency, energy saving and aesthetics”.

1200 m2 of photovoltaic panels are installed on the roof of the Pôle des Savoirs in Liège.
1200 m2 of photovoltaic panels are installed on the roof of the Pôle des Savoirs in Liège. ©Province of Liège

Sustainable materials

Particular attention was paid to the choice of materials to limit the environmental impact of the building: prefabrication techniques, use of sustainable materials, for example wood-aluminium mixed frames and facades glued with wood from sustainably managed forests (PEFC label), insulation without ozone-depleting products, curtain wall system with recycled aluminum materials and flooring and paints that limit volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Soft mobility

“Showers and changing rooms as well as parking spaces are available for employees who come to work by bike. While these developments will inevitably be incorporated into any future design, they are still innovative at this time.”, welcomes the province. The Pôle des Savoirs is in close proximity to several TEC bus lines”and it is enough to cross the Pont Saint-Léonard to reach one of the main stops of the future tram.”. The connection with the city center is also easy by bike. Access for people with reduced mobility is guaranteed throughout the building and its surroundings. In the basement there are also 100 parking spaces for employees and users of the business incubator.

As a reminder, the knowledge center revolves around the theme of writing and digital technology and will integrate multiple functions over a total area of ​​15,000 m 2 . The total budget is almost 50 million euros, financed by the Province of Liège to 25 million euros with support from the ERDF and Wallonia.

A rain collection system at the Knowledge Center in Liège
A rain collection system at the Knowledge Center in Liège ©Province de Liège

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