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Bouchout Tenant Farm and Castle

Future proof concept for a renovated farmyard and castle

The Botanical Garden in Meise is a unique place of international significance. Central to the gardens are the historically valuable Tenant Farm and Bouchout Castle. These places will be transformed into meeting spaces for MICE functions (meetings, incentives, conventions, exhibitions), a visitors’ and staff restaurant and a place to picnic, surrounded by a new landscape design of the Belgian garden.

An inviting garden and architectural design fits subtly within the existing landscape and heritage. The result is an experience-rich and future-proofed design that will demonstrate its relevance and resilience in the yet to be written history of the Botanical Garden. The interventions strengthen and expand the possibilities of the Botanical Garden in its public function. This is necessary to ensure continuity in scientific research and knowledge building.

The existing configuration of small-scale buildings encloses an attractive square with a wealth of plants and trees while the historic facades become the backdrop for a lively courtyard. The buildings all play an important role in the new programme.

The new architecture embraces the cluster of existing buildings along the outside. NU uses a modest architectural language that is subordinate to the existing brick buildings. At the same time, the architecture fits seamlessly into the current situation. In this way, NU safeguards the intimate character of the site.

The three dining spaces of the restaurant are strategically arranged around the kitchen, each with their own experience and outdoor space. The visitors’ room is connected to the lively inner courtyard, the forest room is hidden in the greenery behind it and the staff room has its own garden at the back of the current horse stable. This stable is transformed into the kitchen, the heart of the restaurant. Its strategic position combines three elements: a connection with the logistics zone for deliveries, a connection with the inner courtyard for serving in the summer, and a connection with the halls.

A spacious circulation hall forms the link between the three halls. Depending on the number of visitors, the type of event and the season, the halls can be connected and disconnected. This polyvalent use offers possibilities for the present as well as the future. The staff room can also be used in the evening or at the weekend for visitors or for an exclusive event.

From the greenhouse complex, visitors enter the new Belgian garden, located higher up next to the Tenant Farm. You can go straight down the hill to the courtyard or opt for the crown walk on the roof of the new restaurant. The roof garden is a second surface level and offers extra space that can be used for private parties, exhibitions and events. This can be combined with the multifunctional space on the first floor of the carriage house. The roof garden is also a unique walkway with extensive views of the botanical garden that descends to the courtyard of the Tenant Farm.

Apart for the stable that will be transformed into a kitchen, none of the other buildings will be renovated extensively. They will be preserved in their original state as much as possible. The tower house, with its strategic position, is ideal for sanitary facilities and the tower also welcomes the bat population from the surrounding area. The garden shop will be transformed into a playhouse for children and the cart house will become a picnic spot. The large gates are a great opportunity to activate the square. The bar is able to be rolled out so the party can begin.

  • client Agentschap Plantentuin Meise
  • location Meise, Belgium
  • date 2020 - present
  • status preliminary design
  • icw TV NU-Archipelago, ALTSTADT, Plant en Houtgoed
  • engineering office Boydens, Mouton
  • team NU Sarah Callewaert, Felice Van Tieghem, Yann Courouble, Timotheus De Beir