META and Eduardo Souto de Moura collaborate on a convention center in Belgium with impressive results

The Bruges Meeting and Convention Centre (BMCC), designed jointly by Belgian office META and Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura, is an exercise in grandiose modesty. Its imposing front facade dominates the small public square over which it looms, but the project’s mimicry of materials and rhythms found in the vicinity makes the bulky structure surprisingly affable. Its friendly nature notwithstanding, the promise of wholesale appropriation by the community—the massive hall can be turned into a public plaza by opening the glass walls on all sides—has yet to be fulfilled, as managerial reluctance has prevented local residents from taking full possession of the building.

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