Gerechtsgebouw Gent

Winning competition design for a court building.

  • © Phile Deprez
  • © Serge Brison
  • © Serge Brison
  • © Serge Brison
  • © Serge Brison
  • © Regie der Gebouwen
  • © Serge Brison
  • © Regie der Gebouwen

The building is positioned on the site of a former goods station along the ring road. The complex construction program is developed as a compact, unequivocal, comprehensive volume, consisting of three zones.
Alongside the ring road, the completely transparent central public axis acts as a distribution system for all levels from the public income hall toward the registries and hearing chambers at the back. The magistrates’ individual offices are situated on the north side, adjoining the rows of plane trees in the park zone. The registries and hearing chambers form a bridge, spanning the gap between the central public area and the secured office zone. Three stacked volumes are separated from each other by spacious patios, which allow light and air to flood the building.
A distinguishing feature of the hearing rooms is their extra floor height. A simple scheme like this one allows a clear separation of the distinct user groups (public, magistrates and detainees). Interaction has been organised only in those areas where this is specifically called for.
The circulation inside the building of the magistrates in their robes offers an interesting, characteristic spectacle to viewers outside. The transparency of the publicly accessible strip alongside the ring road offers visitors a clear overview of the structure of the court building, even before they have entered the building. This enhances orientation inside the building. To anyone walking along the public strip the registries, hearing chambers and individual offices are visible.  By judiciously opening up the patios, an interesting topography of interlocking volumes is created on the ground floor, which provides access to the building through several entrances. Excising a volume at the southwest corner is a minimal intervention to create the public entrance. Here, an urban plaza accommodates all modes of arrival and departure: the existing pedestrian crossing and tram stop, bicycle storage, a taxi stand, a drop-off zone, a bus stop and access from the public parking area.
The building’s compact volume leaves sufficient room for various adjoining city park areas featuring a diversity of atmospheres, designed by French landscape architect Michel Desvigne.

client Regie der Gebouwen
location Gent, Belgium
period 1998-2006
procedure competition, laureate
surface 55 000 m²
budget € 105 000 000
team Lieven Achtergael, Stéphane Beel, Jan Mannaerts, Joris Van Huychem, Isabelle Dierickx, Jo Taillieu, Axel Cayman, Filip Reggers, Paul Vantieghem, Katrijn Persoons, Kris Buyse, Michael Smith, Jerzy Bakker, Nuno Carvalho, Albert Coigné, Gustavo Silva Nicoletti, Guy Van Seters, Barbara Wolff, Tine Brits, Arthur De Roover, Tom Cortoos, Francesca de Fonseca, Karolien De Schepper, Maur Dessauvage, Jan De Vylder, Marc Dutré, Freek Dutry, Reto Geiser, Trice Hofkens, Tom Leenders, Marie-Anne Morel, Vincent Pierret, Bert Van Boxelaere, Nikolaas Vande Keere, Tom Van Mieghem, Regis Verplaetse, David Van Severen, Steve Salembier, Kobus de Bruijne, Ruben Verstraeten, Jeroen Bekaert, Tom Broekaert, Silvia Consonni, Bert Haerynck, Wim Hespeel, Kim Schuddinck, Dries Vandevelde
i.c.w. Stéphane Beel (architectural design), Bruce Mau Design (art), Michel Desvigne Paysagistes (landscape design), Technum (structural, MEP and acoustical engineering)