Successful Corda Campus ready for new expansion phase
Hasselt-based campus puts attracting talent centre stage and expands across 9 hectares
Hasselt-based Corda Campus is today launching its master plan 2.0. With an estimated investment of €150 million and an expansion across 9 hectares, on top of the 14 hectares already developed, Corda Campus is looking to cement its role as Europe’s leading technology and innovation campus. Retaining and attracting talent, in all fields and age groups, is a key aspect in this regard. In addition to new office formats, the master plan also includes other themes such as education, commercial premises and space for supporting facilities such as clean rooms or a data centre. The Corda Arena, the first digital arena on the European mainland, is already under development and will be the first concrete realisation in the new master plan. The roll-out of the rest of the plan will be in phases, with completion envisaged for 2030.
Just six years ago, the Research Campus in Hasselt, a former Philips site, was converted into the Corda Campus. The innovative campus got off to a flying start following construction of the iconic Corda 1 building, with its angled green roof. Now, after a few years, various new office buildings with unique office formats and community services have been added, and 14 hectares of the campus have already been successfully developed. There are currently 5,000 people working there in 250 companies. By 2030, there should be no fewer than 7,500 people in 350 companies. The Hasselt-based campus, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Limburg Investment Company LRM, therefore means business and plans to further develop Corda Campus as a leading technology and innovation campus. To achieve this, LRM drew up a new master plan together with the international/local consortium VenhoevenCS/Geosted.
“In the space of 6 years, our campus has grown to become a financially sound and profitable venture. Corda is more than the sum of its office spaces: it is a unique ecosystem of start-ups, scale-ups and major companies, surrounded by government organisations and knowledge institutions. Corda Campus is the successful repurposing of a former Philips site, and a benchmark as a highly promising business campus. Now we are ready for the next phase, and we are aiming to put ourselves on the international map,” explains Raf Degens, Managing Director of Corda.
Corda Campus is ready to write the next chapter in the Corda success story. To this end, the tech campus devised a new master plan for the next 5 to 10 years. The key focus is talent, and this is also emphasised in the new plan. It is a blueprint of possible new developments, in which the campus once again looks beyond just office formulas. For example, there is a strong focus on themes and elements that make it attractive for both young and old to set up on the campus. Examples include the school of the future, where young people are primed for the rapidly changing world in an innovative way. Trendy residential units also have a place in the master plan. Not the apartments everyone is familiar with, but multifunctional living and working spaces which, for example, are ideal places for expats to stay during business trips. Consideration has also been given to functional spaces such as clean rooms or a data centre, which are both interesting and essential for the hundreds of tech companies based on the campus.
The second part of the Hasselt-based Corda Campus should be completed within 5 to 10 years. For the development of the new master plan, the needs and wishes of the current business community were diligently taken on board. Like in a metropolitan area, we will work with ‘districts’, where each district has its own accents. In the ‘new district’, for example, you can work in trendy and flexible ‘office pixels’ – buildings made up of flexible parts with a pixelated architecture, consisting of transparent facades that create open spaces and roof terraces. What is more, these office pixels have an ultra-modern and trendy look, but they also blend perfectly with the peaceful and green vibe of the campus.
“We are rightfully proud of what we can call a very successful repurposing project at this site. A former Philips site has been transformed into a dynamic workplace, this time being home to dozens of companies and employing several thousand people in a dynamic, attractive and stimulating environment. A lot of people have contributed to this success, and they can all look back with pride at the various stages of the journey. It is crucial for us that the next expansion of the campus still blends in nicely with its surroundings. That means that we’re not going for huge, tall towers, but for buildings that fit and blend into the surroundings, with facilities that are also supportive of the neighbourhood and provide added value for everyone who works or lives in and around Corda Campus,” explains Tom Vanham, General Manager of LRM.
“With this ambitious master plan for the further expansion of Corda Campus into the leading European technology and innovation campus, LRM is playing a role in boosting economic activity in Limburg, with verve. The expansion across 9 hectares will give more than 2,500 new talents the opportunity to boost their careers at the workplace of the future. Corda Campus 2.0 is fully in line with my ambition to put Flanders more firmly on the map, as an innovative and sustainable region and to attract talent to our part of the country,” enthuses Flemish Minister of Work and Economy Hilde Crevits.
Corda Campus has emerged in recent years as the largest and most innovative campus in the country. The mix of start-ups, scale-ups and established corporations creates a unique ecosystem.
“This new master plan is an investment in the future. We are once again opting for buildings and initiatives that are sustainable, economical and ecological. The master plan is bursting with possibilities to reinforce talent. Each new project is scrutinised through the lens of profitability, and must add value to the campus and its residents,” explains Hugo Leroi, chairman of the Corda Campus Board of Directors.
The plan is future-oriented in every aspect. With a view to the modal shift and the pioneering role that the campus wants to play in this regard, mobility is a key factor. For example, at the current Kiewit train station, adjacent to the campus, a station square is planned where a wide range of mobility services will be bundled together. For instance, car pooling, electric bikes or scooters. The campus is completely car-free, in order to leave the green aspect of Corda Park intact. Impressive charging infrastructure should ensure that electric cars can be charged at all times.
“Corda Campus has become the flagship of the new economic dynamism that Limburg is currently witnessing. The expansion and new facilities will further enhance this. From the provincial government and POM Limburg, we are aiming, through SALKturbo, to get Limburg up to speed in the area of digitisation and high quality jobs. Corda Campus plays an important role in this regard,” explains Deputy for the Economy Tom Vandeput.
The focus of the first phase of the master plan is the construction of the Corda Arena, a previously announced project which is already underway. The procedure for the Corda Arena has already started, with Tourism Flanders providing support. The Corda Arena will officially open its doors by 2024. It will be a digital, ultra-modern experience arena that will take centre stage on the campus.
Covering 10,000 m², the Corda Arena will be the first and largest digital arena on the mainland. In addition to the high-tech applications and the multifunctional layout of the arena, half of the plot will consist of office units that can be rented out and transformed into atmospheric skyboxes for events. The arena itself has an amphitheatre set-up and can seat up to 4,000 people.
“Hasselt wants to be an innovative leader again in Limburg, Flanders and the Euregio. Corda Campus is our flagship in that regard. Corda Campus has helped put Hasselt on the map as an entrepreneurial smart city, and we are proud to play our part in its growth,” enthuses Steven Vandeput, Mayor of the city of Hasselt.
The complete master plan should be ready by 2030.