Flanders is proud of its prized age-old buildings, but it also has great contemporary architecture. When the Ghent International Congress Centre (ICC) was constructed in the 1970s, it was an avant-garde, forward-looking building – one of the largest dedicated congress centres in the world. The ICC is busy reinventing itself as an Urban Green House, with the soon-to-be-restored Floralies Hall as its magnificent centrepiece.
Times have changed, but the ICC is still a pioneer in its field. Today, it seeks to offer its visitors a warm, sustainable and – quite literally – green experience. Inside the building there are flowers, trees and other plants everywhere you look, from the green atrium over the winter and garden chambers to the experiential roof garden. The aim is not only to turn the venue into a sustainable and eco-friendly place, but also to make visitors feel at home. The ICC is not a cold business environment, but a friendly, cosy place, where people can meet and ideas can germinate. And because it’s a modern, purpose-built venue, you get the best of both worlds: it also boasts excellent, state-of-the art meeting facilities, and rooms and theatres that are fit for events of all sizes.
Sustainable visitor experience
The ICC is located in the 19th-century Citadel Park, a 15-hectare green haven in the busy city of Ghent. In 1913, it was the main site of the World Fair. A series of buildings, known as the Centenary Palace, was erected for the occasion. Some of these have survived and are now the neighbours of the ICC. ‘t Kuipken, originally a large glasshouse, is now a popular velodrome. What used to be the eastern end of the Centenary Palace now houses S.M.A.K., an internationally renowned museum of contemporary arts. And there’s also the Floralies Hall, designed to showcase the Ghent flower industry, which at that time was the most advanced in the world. The Floralies Hall is now being restored, and will in time become a valuable part of the ICC. With such a pedigree, it’s not difficult to see why the ICC is focused on a green, sustainable visitor experience.
City of history and culture
After a hard day’s work, you can take a relaxing stroll in the park, or discover the nearby historic city centre of Ghent, with its shops, restaurants and cafés. For lovers of culture, there’s S.M.A.K. and a host of other museums which together make up Ghent’s Kilometre of Culture. All are within walking distance, as are the city’s theatres and concert halls. Welcome to the Urban Green House that is ICC!