Waterbouwkundig Laboratorium Borgerhout

Winning competition design for the extension of office space for the hydraulic laboratory of the Flemish government.

The site is a higgledy-piggledy complex of various types of building that have all become exceedingly cramped, with some unattractive residual spaces in between them. This layout hampers cooperation between departments, at a time when increased interaction is required. Some of the existing buildings will remain and become interconnected by means of the new building to form an office cluster, which will be connected with the model building halls.
To one corner of this new cluster some extra floors are added, to form a publicly accessible tower accommodating a reception area, a library, a meeting room and an auditorium. This transparent, articulated volume, which can be used as a flexible, independent unit, will be open to people from the neighbourhood after office hours, thus effectively turning it into a new public asset of the Waterbouwkundig Laboratorium.
This intervention provides structure and differentiates the freed-up open space: the office cluster encloses a quiet inner courtyard for employees, the public tower marks out a publicly accessible green strip. Circulation flows can be separated to increase the flexibility of the site’s overall functioning. The existing property is enhanced and upgraded, new energy management technologies are applied and thanks to its wider-ranging function as a public centre the Waterbouwkundig Laboratorium, moreover, showcases the sustainability of the neighbourhood as an interesting residential and work area.

By giving it a distinctly public character, the building is transformed into a contemporary amenity. This reflects its ambition to be not just an office building, but also a knowledge centre, an easily accessible public building and green area in a residential neighbourhood.

client Flemish government
location Borgerhout, Belgium
period 2011-present
procedure competition, laureate
team Lieven Achtergael, Isabelle Dierickx, Pauline De Schryver, Lidewij Deroo, Maarten De Pestel, Hendrik Roels, PieterJan Van Loock, Kris Huysmans, Jeffrey Berghman, Vincent De Keyser
i.c.w. Studieburo Mouton (structural engineering), RCR Studiebureau (MEP engineering), Daidalos Peutz Bouwfysisch Ingenieursbureau (acoustical engineering)