to the Beherman Group

The Beherman Group, with its headquarters in Bornem near Antwerp, is a Belgian multi-sector trading company that has been established for more than a hundred years. During that time, the Group has acquired a solid reputation for the import, distribution, production and assembly of a total of 26 brands of freight and passenger vehicles in the Benelux. Alongside its activities in the automotive sector, the group has also been active in other business fields including IT management and development, financial services and reinsurance, as well as residential and industrial real estate.

For the time being, the automotive sector remains the Beherman Group’s core business: the enterprise is responsible for a Mitsubishi network of 58 dealers and 32 agents, for 39 FUSO distributors in Belgium and Luxembourg and 84 Saab service and repair centres in the Benelux and France. In addition, the Group has plans for several real estate projects, including the management of residential and commercial property.

In 2012 the Beherman Group and Bopro set up the company Sustainable Development Mechelen NV (SDM). SDM has been given the task of centralising the blood transfusion service of the Flemish arm of the Belgian Red Cross, also located on the Ragheno Park in Mechelen, next to its headquarters.

Also on the 13 hectares site, owned by the Beherman Group, the finishing touches are being made to a project that includes residential and business unit. The project offers an honest return on investment, minimal environmental impact and good corporate social responsibility. The plan is to guarantee the long-term viability of the area.

The next big project, called “Pure M”, is the construction of new offices and is part of an extensive urban renovation.

Mechelen, the new centre of Belgium!

Every day, the Flemish and Walloon radio stations tell the story of long traffic delays on the roads: gridlock on the Brussels and Antwerp ring-roads, traffic jams on the N16 and the N21, and extensive delays on the E40 at Ghent and E313 at Hasselt. Interestingly, one name is absent from the daily traffic reports, and that’s Mechelen. This is certainly good news for the people that live there, but it’s also true for the City Council who is able to promote the city as not only charming but also centrally located, and one that is and will remain easily accessible. By road, at least.

Thanks to its location in the heart of the country, Mechelen is also easy to reach by train from nearly all Belgian and European cities. It takes less than 20 minutes to get there from Brussels, Leuven or Antwerp, and the railway and bus stations are within walking distance of each other. The international airport Zaventem (Brussels Airport) is a mere 10-minute train ride away.

Despite Mechelen’s existing good location and ease of access, its Council has been working for some time to further optimise the city’s accessibility. And for good reason; precisely because of its location between Antwerp and Brussels, Mechelen is becoming more and more popular with companies suffering from the reduced accessibility of these large cities. It’s goes without saying though that more local business also increases the number of inhabitants. In the past decade, the population of Mechelen has risen by more than 7000, bringing the total number of inhabitants to 83,000. Incredibly, more people now live in a radius of 25 km from Mechelen’s central market square than in the same radius around Antwerp and Brussels. In order to better exploit the city and its location’s potential, a large-scale redevelopment plan has been devised focussing on the area around the station.

In the coming years, the area surrounding Mechelen’s station will undergo a complete transformation. Not only will the city have a new central station, the neighbouring buildings will be refurbished and incorporated to form the new heart of the city.

The Beherman Group is a major player in this urban renewal project. The Group itself owns over thirteen hectares of land in this development, in an area called “Ragheno Park”. Recently the Group concluded successful negotiations with the authorities to regenerate previously polluted land and for which a Brownfield covenant has been obtained. Work is already in progress in parts of the project area. For example, the centralised blood transfusion service of the Flemish arm of the Belgian Red Cross, will set up their headquarters in the Ragheno Park. This building is nearing completion, and should be occupied by the end of the year. It marks the start of the revival of the station area that will not only transform how Mechelen looks but set in motion the new future of the city.

The strategic extension of the large area surrounding the station is one of the key features of Mechelen’s Municipal Structure Plan. It will undoubtedly be the most impressive urban development project taking place in Mechelen over the coming decades and will most surely come to international attention. For 21st century Mechelen, the city has chosen for sustainable mobility, daring architecture and new urban planning ideas. This will involve the construction of a new railway line (Bypass), a new and essential access road for cars and lorries coming in and out of the city (Tangent), the development of a multimodal railway and bus station and the upgrading of streets and squares in the station area, resulting eventually in changes to the traffic flow.

The work on the Bypass needs to be done quickly so allowing international trains to pass through the city at speeds of 160 km/h instead of the current 100 km/h. It will also have the added effect of increasing the overall capacity, notably as part of the Diabolo and RER projects. Mechelen Station will therefore become the main public transport hub in the city, with the province of Antwerp to the north and Flemish-Brabant province in the south, but also for travel by bus. Mechelen Station will in the future provide easier access to the surrounding region – including the city, the suburbs and the more remote municipalities. The new station will be a mere 7-minute walk from Ragheno Park.

The Tangent and Bypass are part of the same infrastructure project, and both offer high quality urban planning and architecture. Both infrastructures have been designed using an integrated approach. During the construction phase, the inconvenience to the city and its inhabitants/workers will be kept to a minimum. The station building – a Eurostation design, created by architects Salvatore Bono and Brent Turchak – will be user friendly and future proof.

The new station is set to become the driving force for the regeneration of the wider area. A mixed living and working area will emerge on the south east side of the station, which should bring the 21st century to medieval Mechelen. This district should become a more attractive place to live and stay in, but also provide space for companies and organisations that are confronted in other parts of Belgium with space constraints (no options for expansion), poor access and heavy financial costs (overly high rents). These restrictions do not exist in the Ragheno Park, the area that the Beherman Group is developing with several partners.

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As of 2012, the Beherman Group signed a cooperation agreement with the experienced Eurostation team and De Paepe Group for this new project. It aims to sustainably develop the area, give an honest return on investment, be socially accountable and have a minimum ecological impact on the area. Complying entirely with these basic conditions, the Beherman Group is now launching the first major project under the name “Pure M”.

“Pure M”, an ambitious and pioneering project for the further development of Ragheno Park

The “Pure M” project is situated in the new development area “Ragheno Park”, just south of the Mechelen ring road and a stone’s throw from the Central Station. This area has already seen one project from SDM (Sustainable Development Mechelen) come to fruition, and Beherman is a 50% shareholder in this company. It’s the establishment of the centralised blood transfusion service of the Flemish arm of the Belgian Red Cross, whose headquarters are in the development area. This complex is currently under construction and will be completed later this year.

“Pure M” is a 20,000 m² office development which aims to use top quality, contemporary architecture in order to play a pioneering role in the further development of the Ragheno district. “Pure M” was designed by Jaspers & Eyers Architects.

The establishment of office units along Motstraat will form a buffer zone between Motstraat and the existing railway infrastructure on the one side, and the other section just behind it that will be composed mainly of residential units. As this is a rather large development, it was decided to divide the entire project into three different units, thereby matching the scale of the project with the surrounding residential area. One large building would have been just too massive.

Three organic sections will now be positioned around a central courtyard, providing an interesting 3-dimensional effect and surprising views. The project will open out onto Motstraat; a street that will in time be modified, creating a major through road to the new part of the city. Thanks to the strategic location and modern architecture, “Pure M” will not only help promote the area but improve the overall look of the new junction along Motstraat. As an iconic building in the Ragheno district, it will also serve as a focal point for the regeneration of the site.

The plan is to position the three volumes above ground level. The raised area will be landscaped and underneath there will be ample parking as well as place for bicycles. In addition it will act as a green buffer zone for the properties in the inner area. The central courtyard will be open on three sides letting the entire area be accessible to pedestrians; this could well become an alternative and small-scale walking route in the future.

The facades are recognisable for the different elements placed around the building in a continuous and rational fashion. Their vertical articulation will match the already existing verticality of the new Red Cross building as well as the scale and type of houses, thus reinforcing the volume effect of the three organic volumes. Together with the horizontal overhanging panels, they also provide shade from the sun.

The compact volumes will offer a great deal of flexibility for office floor layouts. With each standard level being approximately 1,500 m², there will no problem to position individual offices, and indeed combine both open and closed spaces. The central courtyard together with the functional hub is a key feature of the building. Besides providing natural light, it also has an energising impact. The courtyard will create an interesting interaction between the inside and outside spaces, and will also offer captivating views of the surroundings. Alongside the ambitious and progressive architecture, “Pure M” also aspires to high standards in terms of energy and ecology. This matches the overall development of the new urban area, thereby reinforcing the city of Mechelen’s wish that this new area should play a pioneering role in the city.

Parking at level -1 and examples of interior fitting out
(ground floor and first floor)