The words cool and casino often go hand-in-hand. From pool parties in five-star Vegas hotels, through to towering skyscrapers in Macau and Michelin-starred restaurants in Monaco – the world’s best and most beautiful gaming hubs all have something unique to set them apart.
But the competition is only set to get fiercer with the introduction of, arguably, the world’s coolest eco casino – Casino Middelkerke in Belgium.
In tune with other industries across the globe, many casinos are eagerly embracing green solutions – saving on water, electricity and appealing to younger audiences, who are increasingly thoughtful about the environmental impact of their entertainment.
But now architects are also eyeing the way that casinos are constructed – and seeking more sustainable solutions for buildings of the future.
Step forward, Middelkerke.
Belgium may not be the first place that springs to mind as a centre of gaming, but European cities are battling back against the US and China when it comes to entertainment hubs.
Situated in West Flanders, the Middelkerke municipality is far from a bustling metropolis, but it does sit overlooking the North Sea, which is one of the reasons Dutch firm ZJA and the Nautilus consortium decided on the spot.
Inspired by coastal dunes, the architects are currently crafting a hotel-casino that will slot seamlessly into the landscape – complementing the scenery instead of competing with it.
The casino, events centre and restaurant will take the form of an artificial sand dune – reminiscent of the type that once covered the area but disappeared due to human impact – while a ‘boulder-like’ four-story hotel will sit on top, to give visitors the chance for bed and breakfast ‘on the beach’.
What Makes Middelkerke Eco-Friendly?
As well as drawing on the town’s history through its aesthetics, and refreshing and renewing the location in the present, the contemporary casino will offer a range of green initiatives during and beyond its creation.
A car-free public space, which will connect the beach, entertainment hub and town center, is at the heart of the project – which began in 2020, and works by essentially re-linking the urban space with the natural.
Dramatic views of the beach and sea, and walkable, green areas on the roof, will be key to providing visitors with a unique experience that allows them to immerse themselves in the local landscape.
While construction of the structure itself includes using recycled materials and sustainable wood, the latter of which will be used for a CO2-saving casing around the building.
The design of the casino is also intended to allow it to shade itself to reduce the need for air-conditioning, while making best use of sunlight and ventilation, and even contributing to the reinforcement of sea wall defenses in the area.
Will this innovative design cause a ripple effect within the casino world? And force a rethink of how the biggest in the industry look at their locations?
Let the games begin…