Albertplein, 8300 Knokke-Heist, Belgium
51°21’17,32”N / 3°17’56,42”E

Redevelopment of the square: 2,254 m²; glazed pavilion: 166 m²; storage spaces: 478 m²; infrastructure: 7,131 m² (171 parking spaces on 2 levels); 2017- ; (01/644).

Winner of the “design and build” call for tenders, in association with PSR Brownfield Developers nv (Jan De Nul Group) & Luc Goethals Promotor nv.
Sales file for the underground of the Albertplein organised by AGSO Knokke-Heist on behalf of the municipality of Knokke-Heist.

Services performed
  • Town planning
  • Architecture
  • Interior architecture
  • Landscaping
  • Structural engineering
  • MEP engineering
  • Building physics and energy concepts
  • Acoustics
  • Signposting
  • Accessibility
  • Fire safety


The sea evokes dreams. Adorned with the verses of Eluard, the Poet, the bronze sculpture by artist Ossip Zadkine, tells all of this on Albertplein, once the dynamic, beating heart of Knokke-Heist.

The goal of this project is to breathe new life into that heart, to invite people to look, to see, to dream their life under the sunlight and in front of the sea, of which Albertplein will become an extension.

The Albertplein bears the name of two of our former kings. It is located in Knokke-Heist, but it represents Belgium itself: a mix of people from Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia.

It is also a square where a certain idea of ​​harmonious ambiguity takes place, haute couture standing alongside coolers plainly and simply. It is called “Matuvu square” for a reason (litterally: “show-off square”). The project aims at highlighting the richness of this setting.

A glazed pavilion at the centre of a body of water

The central hemispherical pavilion is an ode to light. As music relates to silence, reflection relates to transparency, and shadow to light. Hence the dome’s pattern, consisting of two types of “super crystal clear” glass. One half of the triangles consists of regular clear reflective glass, whereas the other half consists of the same glass, treated with a very special coating, which makes almost all reflections disappear.

This effect of endlessness and freedom is strengthened by the reflecting pool around the pavilion, visually giving it the scope of a full sphere.

On weekdays, everyone – including wheelchair users – can hang out and enjoy themselves here. On the weekend, the square can be transformed into an space for exceptional events, from ceremonial to popular. By draining the fountain, for example, the square becomes a stage for arts of all kinds: dance, theatre, music, an imaginative car show, nay an ice skating rink in winter. The pavilion can also be completely emptied and used for various purposes. This diversity of people and activities adds colour to this deliberately colourless design.

In order to guarantee its versatility as well, the relationship with the underground level is kept as discreet as possible: a spiral staircase and platform lift.

The pavilion not only provides the intended ambiguity, an interplay between reflection and transparency, but also a high level of MATUVU: you see and are seen!

Even the four functional volumes play a part, as they are coated with polished reflective stainless steel. These sheds can be used in very different ways: as storage space for chairs and tables, or as public toilets at events.

On the side of the Kustlaan, mobile stands can be placed.

Building the glazed pavilion

Unprecedented techniques are being used for the construction and its equipment.

The frame of the dome consists of an isonode structure, discovered by Philippe Samyn, which solves an almost impossible geometric problem: to make a dome with quasi-identical three-dimensional requirements (that is, they have only one degree of freedom). Thin polished stainless steel profiles outline the frame and border the triangular glazing, which also plays a role in the global stability by preventing lateral buckling of the profiles and damping the vibrations of the structure. This is done by the silicones joints that attach them to the structure.

This dome can be cleaned on both the inside and outside using a cherry picker.

The heating and ventilation strategy is similar to what Philippe Samyn and Partners used before in comparable structures (the building for the Walloon branch of reproduction forestry material in Marche-en-Famenne (01/279), the M&G Ricerche in Venafro, Italy (01/222), and the East Vesuvio railway station in Naples, Italy (01/552)). As a matter of fact, the temperature rises rapidly with height, but the thermal stratification remains stationary. Ventilation takes place by opening the doors on the four main axes. In addition, the air is also refreshed by the body of water around the dome. Heating during winter will be done through underfloor heating and infra-red heaters.

A fine net of LED lights will be attached to the very thin structure of the dome, as will be the case above the terraces furniture that provide structure to the external space.

Layout of the square

The square is covered with a large rectangular carpet of 67 m x 30 m in checkerboard of black and white slabs extended on all four sides by fringes also alternating black and white stripes. The slabs are made of geopolymer (concrete produced from metallurgical slag) dotted with coins from all over the world, as an evocation of travels and a total antidote to the visual pollution of chewing gums! Besides the cosmopolitan touch, this addition will also have an artistic and sustainable value for the MATUVU square.

Finally, the road will be marked in a logical way. Enzo Mari, an Italian designer, designed concrete panettones, known as tognolinis, to prevent the biggest problem faced by these types of poles. These tognolinis have a cavity at the top in which a stick can be placed. This enables the pole to be easily returned to its original place after a collision, without any damage. A simple and sustainable solution that is strangely not yet in use in Belgian public spaces.

The square becomes an invitation to dreams and creativity. Therefore, it is important to remove the Poet from his unwieldy concrete pedestal and to place him in the water, as if floating above, or rising from the water.

The MATUVU square not only becomes again the place to be, but also the place to invent, to gather, to communicate, to dream, to… to be.

[1] See www.samynandpartners.com: Publication n° (1320): Philippe Samyn: “Revolutionary polyhedron in isonode triangles” (03/340; 2018-03-12). The variables take here the values n=60; α = 60°; and ɣ = 5°.


Philippe SAMYN and PARTNERS sprl, architects & engineers   Philippe Samyn

Steenweg op  Waterloo, 1537   B-1180 Brussels                         Exclusive owner of the copyrights

Tel. + 32 2 374  90 60       Fax + 32 2 374 75 50

E-mail: sai@samynandpartners.com


Architecture and engineering          

Design Partner                      :               Dr Ir Philippe Samyn.

Administrative Partners        :               Jacques CEYSSENS

Consultant partner              :               Åsa DECORTE

Collaborators                        :               Karim AMMOR, Gabriel BALTARIU, Sam DE DOBBELEER, Mirela GANCHEVA, Ali LAGHRARI, Vlad POPA, Radu SOMFELEAN, Juliette YARAMIS.

Outside lightning                  :              Magic Monkey bvba, Marc Largent

                                                               Franz Merjaystraat, 179, B-1050 Brussels

                                                               Tel. : +32 2 344 84 84, Fax : +32 2 347 70 72

                                                               E-mail : marc.largent@ magicmonkey.net

644 - MATUVU SQUAREsamyn