SPI, in cooperation with Wallonia Design and Job’In Design, has launched the Wallonia Design Station. Centrally located in the Liege-Guillemins station neighbourhood, this Walloon design centre is intended to help creators make themselves known, bring their projects to fruition and come into contact with other actors. SPI also offers office space in a business centre.
As a true showcase, the Wallonia Design Station today officially opens its doors. This creative, business centre will bring the Walloon stakeholders of the creation world together in one place. Designers and creators will be provided on site with all the facilities they need to develop their skills and ideas. « Liege now has a very fine tool which serves designers and companies while also leveraging the momentum of SPI, Wallonia Design and Job’In Design to help them bring their projects to fruition and generate added value for our region », welcomed Paul-Emile Mottard, provincial MP and Chairman of Wallonia Design.
A creative and business platform as a source of innovation
The Design Station is intended to be a true business, creative platform. The associations active in the sector – Job’In Design and Wallonia Design – are to be based here. Next to its showroom, meeting or conference spaces, prototyping room and co-working space, the Wallonia Design Station is also provided with a business centre, apartments – in a quiet area inside, and parking spaces in the basement. « We are located in an urban area and this diversity of functions is advantageous in optimising the use of space, especially as the building is sited on wasteland, the former Balteau site. After the Calatrava station and the Finance Tower, the Design Station is confirming the renaissance of one of Liege’s flagship districts », commented Claude Klenkenberg, SPI’s Chairman.
A Business Centre
SPI offers companies the opportunity to set up their businesses in this new creative centre on an « all-inclusive » basis. Indeed, joint services are provided for the nine fully furnished and equipped offices (13 to 27 m²): cleaning, meeting room, showers, kitchenette, photocopier, alarm, reception, etc.
A project funded by Wallonia and Europe
« The building represents a total investment of 2.5 million euros almost 2 million euros of which is funded by the FEDER European funds and Wallonia subsidies under the economic development policy », said Maxime Prévot, the Walloon Minister of public works and areas of economic activities.
« As a creative and business centre, the new building is distinguished by an innovative architectural approach. This place is now destined to become the cradle for Liege design » welcomed the Minister Maxime Prévot.
For Jean-Claude MARCOURT, the Minister for the Economy: « Wallonia, designated by the European Commission as a « European creative district », is set to become a Mecca for the creative economy. The momentum established by the « Creative Wallonia » programme that I initiated in 2010 is bearing fruit. Creativity and innovation, the main thrusts of the Marshall Plan 4.0, are central to our economic and industrial development strategy ».
The Minister added: « In an increasingly competitive, globalised market, design is a tremendous tool for differentiation, innovation and competitiveness for our businesses. The Design Station in Liege, as a incubator for projects, businesses and organisations active in the design field, now leverages the momentum that has been built up in Wallonia in recent years ».
The slanting assertion
It is the first turnkey building developed by SPI in partnership with a private investor. Indeed, it was built by the Gilles Moury company with its main architects being Altiplan Architects/Creative Architecture (Architects), Cerfontaine (stability), Pierre Berger (engineering design), Genie Tech Belgium (safety and health coordination) and Two Designers (design). « We wanted to create a strong visual impact, to assert the position of this new place in the neighbourhood », explained Gilles-Olivier Moury. Indeed, the Design Station breaks the alignment with the built front through a significant slanted structure overhanding the roadway. This slant is used both outside and inside the building. Its facade, for its part, is covered with a micro-perforated double fabric membrane sunshade which will have different reflections, depending on the weather and lighting conditions. The fabric will also be able to be used as a projection screen. In addition to these effects, the window boxes will be used as showcases for creations.
The Design Station’s graphic identity, for its part, is signed by the DEBIE Graphic Design studio.
Design On Track
On the occasion of the opening of the Wallonia Design Station, SPI, in cooperation with Wallonia Design and Job’In Design, held an exhibition entitled « Design on Track, Wallonia businesses and designers ». This exhibition highlighted around thirty objects/products designed by Walloon companies that invest in design. The selection of projects shows the value and diversity of practices and demonstrates the usefulness of the designers’ skills.