Modern Architecture in Belgium: the not so typical Bruges guide

As you can tell by my previous post I was in Bruges! It’s a fascinating city full of architecture gems.. Beautiful Medieval buildings like for example the Belfry Tower where you can have the best view of the city from a 83 meters tower.

However I wanted to see another side of Bruges which you probably don’t associate with this city. I wanted to see their most recent and modern buildings.


Side Note

Just to clarify something up. I don’t use the word “Modern” as the architecture style and period that emerged in the first half of the 20th century. The buildings I will talk about are not from the Modern Period, this buildings are considered Contemporary.

Hopefully I can explain myself… I had a class called History of Modern Architecture. In this class I studied the architecture periods from Middle Age till the Neo-Classicism. These are styles you probably won’t associate the word “Modern”. However, most of the architects that I studied like Micheangelo or Borromini reinvented architecture with the new materials and ideologies from their time they can be considered modern.

So, again, I’m using the word modern not as an architecture style but as a way of thinking… and because is a more searchable term.


The four buildings I’m going to show you are just a small representation of Contemporary Architecture in Bruges and the most popular ones. There’s a lot more than these four!

So here it is! The Modern Architecture in Belgium: the not so typical Bruges guide.


Rijksarchief Brugge



Probably the most famous one modern building in Brugues.. or it’s at least in the top 2.  It’s easy to understand why.

According to VisitBruges before this building was built there used to be a Dominican monastery from the 14th century up until the 18th century. Well as you can see now it’s definetly not a religous building. Designed by the architect Olivier Salens and opened to public in 2012, here’s the new State Archives!

Bruges is a very earthy colour city ( is that a thing?) so you will see that most of buildings are preserving this character. I’m glad they did. On this specific design, the architect decided to use the traditional brick that it suposed to, as VisitBruges said, ” (…) resembling loosely stacked paper – an illusion that is bolstered by the long bricks that make up the facade cladding “.  The roof consist of  this asymetric form that somehow looks like a crumpled-up piece of paper.

Hmm.. Not sure that’s what people think when they see and visit the building. However I like that was the architect thought behind the design, at least it shows the final building form had an intention.


De Gouden Boom



The Gouden Boom or the Golden Tree is not exactly a public building however I still think it’s worth to mention. With a mix or residential apartaments and commercial spaces this complex is located pretty close to the last one.

The residential project  even though it seems quite bold and different from the typical houses in Bruges it was able to respect and integrat some historic architecture features. For example notice how on this last picture both buildings end with the same height or they both use light colour bricks. When you enter the complex’s courtyard you can now see the character of this design which could be easly missed when you past by it on the street.

Since this is a manly residentional building it was no possible for me to take pictures and visited all  if you want to see more of this building just visit their official website Goudenboom






Remember when I said the Rijksarchied Brugge was in the top 2 of the most famous modern buildings in Bruges? This is the building that shares the throne, the Concertgebouw.

Unfortunatly some heavy construction was going on while I was there.  I wish I had better pictures to show so bear with me this one. Hopefully, and if everthing goes as planed, I will visit again Bruges this year and all the work will be done by then.

Even though the architects Robbrecht and Daem decided not  to use brick like the State Libray, they still continue with the brick colour scheme typicall in Bruges. With that intent, the building facades were covered with red terracotta tiles.

This is all I can say about this building for now but as soon as I visit again I will re-edit this part.


Bibliotheek Sint-Andries



To end this post… The  Sint-Andries Library is the farthest one but so worth to visit. Located 30min walking outside of the historic Bruges city center.

Designed by the Studio Farris  in 2012 and opened to public in 2015. It’s a small project, basically an extension and renovation of Sint-Andries Library. However, at least for me, is full of qualities. It shows how Old and New can work in just one building. One helps showcases the qualities of the other and vice-versa.

The new corten steel building is visually disconected from the old white brick one. This is the kinf of affirmation that I like in architecture. The extension is not trying to replicate the old historic building but insted it’s complementing while creating an identity of his own.

That’s why you should visit this example even though it’s not in the city center. The others buildings that I talked before are great and they solved their own problems. However they are made from scratch while the Sint-Andries had to deal with an existing historic building.


That’s all for now! Don’t forget to read the other post that I wrote about Bruges!

For the next post I will be moving to another Belgium city, Antwerp.



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