Proximus transforms Tour & Taxis into a smart city hub
Published on 17/01/2023 in Inspire
Project developer Nextensa is developing the Tour & Taxis site in Brussels into a buzzing city hub for living, working, and relaxing. The 3 pillars of the redevelopment project: smart buildings, smart safety, and smart mobility.
From the beginning of the last century, Tour & Taxis served as a logistics platform for customs clearance with at its center the freight station and warehouses. “In the 1960s, Tour & Taxis still employed around 5,000 people.
When freight transport moved from the train to the truck and the customs system became less important, the site lost its initial purpose,” explains Peter De Durpel. Property developer Nextensa bought the site in 2000 together with a few partners and integrated it entirely in its own portfolio from 2015.
The challenge for Nextensa was to develop the site into a balanced mix of offices, homes, shops, green space, and recreation. “This part of the city should appeal to everyone and should include affordable living facilities – we are creating a total of around 1,800 homes – and space for offices, retail, catering and events,” explains Peter De Durpel.
The challenge for Nextensa was to develop the site into a balanced mix of offices, homes, shops, green space, and recreation.
Peter De Durpel, COO Nextensa
Nextensa puts sustainability first. “The landscape design with the park, the pond, and the space between the buildings is just as important as the development of the buildings themselves,” says Peter De Durpel. Once the project is completed, Tour & Taxis will have nine hectares of parkland.
But the necessary green space is also provided in the interior areas. For example, the green boulevards in the Gare Maritime on both sides of the central nave are lined with themed gardens and tall trees.
The building generates its own energy from renewable sources, using geothermal energy and solar panels. Two gigantic rainwater tanks can store 1.4 million liters of water, and the excess rainwater ends up directly in the canal.
Data, cameras, and mobility info
“We want to offer our tenants the best possible work experience,” says COO Peter De Durpel of Nextensa. “This is only possible with a smart building in which we can collect a lot of data in close cooperation with the tenants in order to constantly improve that experience.
We also installed a smart camera system that we use to secure the site and help people find their way. And with smart mobility, we ensure that all visitors get from their home to the site in the best and fastest manner.”
Together with Proximus, we want to roll out smart, digital connectivity across the entire site.
Peter De Durpel, COO at Nextensa
Camera systems and Wi-Fi thanks to fiber
To make that happen, Nextensa contacted Proximus. Mohammed Al Jarraz at Proximus: “We engaged 12 experts to provide the best networks and digital infrastructures for these various applications on the site.
This resulted in the choice of a fiber network that reaches the site via two inputs, ensuring speed, redundancy, and connectivity. All applications such as the camera system and the Wi-Fi run on it. Our biggest challenge was actually communicating with the partners of Extensa and carrying out the work.”
Stable connectivity as a basis for the digital future
Among other things, the orders and payments in the Food Market of Gare Maritime on the site are now performed digitally. The workstations also benefit from stable connectivity.
And the cooperation does not end there. “In the final development phase, we want to roll out this smart, digital connectivity together with Proximus across the entire site. We see the collaboration with Proximus very clearly as a partnership and not as a relationship between customer and supplier,” concludes Peter De Durpel.
Peter De Durpel graduated as a civil engineer from the Royal Military School, Polytechnic faculty, in Brussels. As COO, he has been responsible for the operational section at Nextensa since 2015.
Real estate developer Extensa and real estate investor Leasinvest Real Estate – both (partly) under the umbrella of the investment company Ackermans & van Haaren since the 1990s – have recently been working together as Nextensa. The company specializes in real estate development and investments with a strong focus on sustainability.