The design and realisation of the office building for the ‘Intercommunale Ontwikkelingsmaatschappij voor de Kempen’ in Geel started from the client’s far-reaching vision of sustainability. First of all, from the initial phase of the project, the choice was made to make maximum use of the available space in the surroundings. In order to achieve this, the maximum height will be built. This also follows the three-dimensional guidelines from the vision paper entitled ‘Hoger Bouwen’, drawn up by the city of Geel at the end of 2011. The design of the new office building for the IOK will contribute to the development of the traffic junction at the beltway of Geel as a fully functioning city gateway, visible from the wider surroundings.
Together with the design of the office building, a master plan was drawn up for the entire site. In the future, the current site can grow into a ‘science park’ alongside the beltway of Geel. This office and business park is structured from a logical linking of simple volumes around a central space. Sustainability over time, with a focus on the beneficial use of space, is guaranteed within this master plan.
The new headquarters will occupy a prominent place in this future ensemble. The simple, rectangular volume stands along the beltway of Geel, and with its height of six storeys it occupies a clear place in the street scene. The offices are organised around a compact technical centre. The simplicity of the structure results in a very flexible layout that can vary over time. The reception and meeting rooms of the office complex are located on the ground floor. Through various projections in the façade, these functions are emphasised in the volume and relationships are established with the existing office building. In this way, the building becomes part of its current and future environment.
A structural grid – based on the most economically efficient dimensions – is continued throughout the design and is also translated into the façade. The rhythm of the wooden façade elements breaks the tight pattern of the window openings and creates a varied and attractive façade image. The use of materials and detailing is a translation of the relationship between the commercial programme and the rather rural environment with open fields in the surroundings.
The client’s far-reaching vision in the area of sustainability is expressed throughout the design and development of the office building. Both in terms of sustainable use of materials throughout the building – the entire façade is made of wood – and in terms of technology, the necessary attention is always paid to ecology. For example, the cooling and heating needs of the building are based on renewable energy, namely a groundwater-based heat pump. Concrete core activation, high insulation thicknesses and minimal perforations are also used. With all these different measures, we have obtained an extremely energy-friendly office building (E48) that meets all comfort requirements.
Archiles architecten, HUB architecten, Bureau bouwtechniek, Forté, Tractebel
2013 – 2014