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Public haren prison 3 web

VK engineers largest penitentiary village of Belgium


After years of lacking in qualitative penitentiary infrastructure, Belgium is taking action. In recent years, the Poort van Beveren prison and the Forensic Psychiatric Centre in Antwerp were opened. Next year, the construction of a new prison complex will start in Haren, Belgium. On 15 ha, a prison counting 116,000 m² will accommodate 1,190 detainees.

The project replaces the prisons of Saint-Gilles, Forêt and Berkendael combined. Architects for the ‘prison village’ are EGM architecten and B2AI. VK is assigned for all engineering.

A village with many facilities

The prison gathers as many facilities as possible on one spot. Besides 2 arrest houses (for pre-trial detention) and 1 prison (for convicts) for men, the complex also holds a closed and open section for women, and a youth detention facility. In addition, a medical center, psychiatric ward, logistics with working houses, back-office, sports facilities, visitor areas with child-section and playground, and an entrance building with court-rooms – to reduce the transport of prisoners. All of these are housed in separate small-scale volumes, hence the referral to a ‘village’.

Complex structure within a strict schedule

Regarding structural engineering, Haren represents an extensive study in a strict schedule: from preliminary design to execution design in 6 months, including reinforcements. Fully designed in BIM, each structural element has specific parameters, such as fire resistance, acoustics and perimeter class (security class).

Considerable differences in level on the terrain form an additional challenge, especially since all buildings will be constructed at approximately the same time.

The very sharp planning for this complex structure was feasible only by combining the calculation model and the BIM-model in one environment.

Security and energy efficiency

Security is a crucial theme for our M&E engineers, looking at a full Prison WeB-integration, control rooms, data centers, UPS rooms …

Another important element is energy efficiency, in applying several active and passive measures: a BTES field with 250 channels, heat pumps, cogeneration for sanitary hot water, new generation PV-panels, maximum energy recuperation injected on the central heat network …

Additionally, purified greywater and rainwater are being re-used, about 740 m³, for toilet flushing, cleaning, laundry, and irrigation.

The village is to become an energy-neutral BREEAM Very Good-project, with a reduction of 60% in CO2 and 77% in tap water. The total integration of all systems is a truly challenging feat.


Buildings Agency allocated the prison complex with a DBFM-contract to Cafasso, consisting of Denys, FCC Construcción and Macquarie Capital.

Completion is planned for 2022.

More info on https://www.gevangenisharenpri...

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