A cross-shaped building clad in glass glints bronze when the sun hits it just right at golden hour. Previously home to the former Royal Belge insurance headquarters, this functionalist building dating from 1969 has recently been transformed into the cutting-edge MIX Hotel, envisioned to be a creative oasis for the modern traveler’s short- and long-term stays. Located at the very edge of Brussels, the revitalized 1970s building borders a forested park, and truly feels like an artist’s oasis.
The historic building was designed by René Stapels and Pierre Dufau, two modern designers who were inspired by the likes of other modern heavy hitters like Eero Saarinen, notably his contemporaneous design for John Deere’s World Headquarters in Moline, Illinois. A 580,000-square-foot layout is enclosed in Corten steel and smoked bronze windows, which may have faced the same ruinous fate of many now-abandoned suburban office parks if not for the creative rejuvenation by renowned Brussels-based designer Lionel Jadot and several members his newly formed collaborative Zaventem Atelier.
Intentionally reimagined to retain and remix the functionalist character of the building and its retro ‘70s vibes, Jadot has maintained the glassy bronze facade yet transformed the building’s interiors to a tastefully eclectic level. Rooms are filled with bespoke light fixtures and textiles, commissioned from 52 individual Belgian artisans. And of course, art abounds, from large canvases lining corridors to small sculptures that accent side tables. Lionel describes the project as a meticulously curated collection of collectible design—an aesthetic that follows recent pushback against the stark, minimalist “stealth-wealth” expressions that have traditionally resulted in beige, bland hotels and corporate spaces.
In addition to creative design and light-filled guest rooms, the hotel boasts dozens of luxe amenities that cater to the modern traveler. Wellness is at the center of the MIX experience, with offerings from an adults-only spa complete with a salt cave and hammam, a state-of-the-art gym with over 30 daily classes connected to a health-focused restaurant, and beautiful, design-forward coworking spaces conceived with productivity in mind. After a long day’s work either downtown or within MIX’s curated spaces, there are also two proposed gastronomic experiences that intentionally act as an “an ode to the moments in life when we take our time.”
MIX Hotel is just one jewel project in Jadot’s iconic portfolio, but it represents an early success for the still-emergent Zaventem Atelier, dubbed by Surface as “one of Europe’s most experimental design collectives.” For a collective concept that promises a “never sterile open laboratory giving birth to strong emulations,” MIX Hotel is a convincing foray by independently working designers coming together through a shared space, vision and ideal of community in Brussels. By artists and for artists, the original feel of a multi-disciplinary space designed by many, rather than being the vision of just one, offers a New Age energy that puts a timeless spin on a historic structure.