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Redevelopment of the industrial "St.-Michel" building into a school complex

The Imelda Institute & GO! Lyceum Martha Somers, Sint-Jans-Molenbeek


Redevelopment and renovation of a tobacco warehouse into two secondary schools and complementary sports infrastructure.

The large-scale, the robust appearance and the special typology of the former tobacco warehouse "St.-Michel" is being respected in the new facade architecture, designed by SumProject. The almost ‘blind’ building became recognizable as a school building by the large windows and the two striking school gates. The campus occupies approximately 17,000m² and is the new home of the Imelda Institute, which offers technical and vocational secondary education, and the GO! Lyceum Martha Somers offering a general secondary education.

The new facade architecture focuses on a great transparency, celebrating the structure of its concrete columns and the cassette floors. At the same time it makes the transition to the needs for daylight and visibility in a school. The roofs are now used as additional play areas on level +4, adjacent to the new volume for sports facilities ,or as a green roof and energy roof. The monumental portico in the Picardstreet with its typical architecture of the 1950s has been essentially preserved. The wide frame with concrete vaults and square openings with its typical "moucharabia" have been delicately restored. The quite closed middle section of the façade  has been reinterpreted with a woven metal mesh that appears closed from certain angles, then has a large lateral openness giving the rooms behind it light and visibility. The high relief has been given its central place as a reference to the history of the building. Along the Picardstreet, the project enables also the autonomous use of one of the refectories.

A new volume , housing sports accommodation, has been added on the existing roof, in the same, quite monumental order of the original building. Its facades are clad with two types of profiled metal sheets, the top of which has a more dense serration. Special attention has been paid to the detailing of connections of the profiled sheets (corners, top and bottom…). Together with the large window openings the play of daylight, sun and shade, animate this new roof volume.


  • Construction works : January 2019 - opening 01.09.2020

  • Construction budget € 26,993,802.34

  • Surface 17,000m²

  • 1,450 students

Client: SIMICA (Kairos nv)

Architecture: SumProject

Construction phase: SumProject in collaboration with B2Ai Architects 

In collaboration with: Group D (structural engineering) -  VK Architects & Engineers special techniques & accoustical engineering  - EPB

Photo: Klaas Verdru


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