These ‘vertical forests’ could transform a Brussels wasteland into luxury apartments

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A proposal to redevelop Tour and Taxis in Brussels, Belgium.
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Vincent Callebaut Architecture

Tours and Taxis, a former industrial site in Brussels, sat abandoned for nearly a half-century. Within the last few years, the city has started renovating the existing buildings.

If approved by Brussels, a new proposal could turn the entire area into luxury housing, restaurants, shops, office space, and greenhouses.

In late 2016, the design firm Vincent Callebaut Architecture sent the fantastical masterplan to the city government, and is waiting to hear if it will move forward, lead architect Vincent Callebaut tells Business Insider.

Check it out below.


Spanning over 1.4 million square feet, Callebaut’s masterplan would redevelop the Tour and Taxis site, located northwest of the Brussels city center.

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Vincent Callebaut Architecture

The Tour and Taxis buildings, which date back to the 19th century, were first used as horse pastures. They were owned by the Von Thurn und Tassis family, the founders of the Belgian postal system.

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Vincent Callebaut Architecture

At the turn of the 20th century, however, the site was turned into a port, and the buildings became warehouses, a train station, and maritime station. At its height during the 1960s, over 3,000 people worked there. But by the ’70s, Europe had lifted most trade barriers and manufacturers began seeing increased competition from road freight transport, which rendered most of Tour and Taxis’ customs and transit facilities obsolete. The site was abandoned in the ’80s.


The buildings now function mostly as tourist attractions. Here’s what one of the warehouses, which also includes a few offices and shops, looks like today.

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Wikipedia Commons

The new proposal includes three “vertical forests,” which would feature 30,000 plants.

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Vincent Callebaut Architecture

Made of solid wood and cross-laminated timber, the vertical forests would stretch over 300 feet tall and be partially powered by solar panels.

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Vincent Callebaut Architecture

The greenery would continue indoors. Here’s what one of the building’s grand lobby would look like.

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Vincent Callebaut Architecture

They would also include shops, 750 apartments  …

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Vincent Callebaut Architecture

… restaurants …

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Vincent Callebaut Architecture

… and stacked offices.

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Vincent Callebaut Architecture

Here’s a rendering of the inside of an office, which would overlook the lobby:

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Vincent Callebaut Architecture

Apartment balconies would feature small gardens.

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Vincent Callebaut Architecture

Next to the vertical forests, there would be three greenhouses that would grow vegetables and fruit.

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Vincent Callebaut Architecture

A large marsh would also encourage biodiversity in the city, and provide a space for outdoor events.

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Vincent Callebaut Architecture

Callebaut sees the masterplan as a way to propel Brussels into a more eco-friendly future. The proposal prioritizes the use of recyclable materials, renewable energy sources, and green space.

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Vincent Callebaut Architecture

The plants would also absorb 175 tons of CO2 per year, according to Callebaut. Pictured below are pods that would feature more offices.

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Vincent Callebaut Architecture

Callebaut hopes “to bring Tours and Taxis into the 21st century in terms of uses, technological progress, and innovative, sustainable building principles.”

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Vincent Callebaut Architecture