NAC Grimbergen

1 / 15
All Projects
  • Location: Grimbergen, Belgium
  • Program: City Hall
  • Area: 5.660 m²
  • Year: 2021
  • Status: Competition

Concept & Vision

As a team, we feel ethically responsible to our client to offer quality at all levels:

  • a building with an architectural appearance, with special attention to the historical character and the way to deal with it,
  • the realization of an energy-efficient building where full use is made of new techniques and sustainability,
  • a building in which equality for everyone is paramount and also radiates this.

Our vision also assists the municipality of Grimbergen in its role as an exemplary function
in the field of society, inclusiveness, spatial planning, and sustainability. The opportunity we see here represents a major challenge that we are only too happy to take on with the capacity, knowledge, and expertise of such complex construction assignments within our team – contractor, architect, landscape architect, and design offices – since we have sufficient experience. We are fully committed to this to offer a manageable total solution that is future-oriented and that avoids risks.

In our vision, the building is also important as a workplace: the NAC is a place of collaboration but also offers the opportunity to work in new or different ways. In the post-corona era, the office environment has also partly become a meeting place: after periods of working from home it is important that colleagues can see each other again and have a chat, work together, … The office environment offers the possibility to maintain social contact, which is important for the mental and psychological well-being of the employees and therefore also for efficiency in the workplace.

We generate a building that radiates the atmosphere of a home; not only for the employees but also for residents and visitors of Grimbergen. The NAC will be a House for everyone, a house that radiates coziness, where it feels like coming home, and reads as an open, accessible, and transparent structure.

The NAC will become a “Municipality House” that offers security to its residents and users. We refer happy to go to the mission, vision, and values ​​that the local government of Grimbergen has that are very related to the approach and concept of the new building.
“Geborgen in Grimbergen”, the slogan of the municipality and as well as the deeper meaning of the Grimbergen logo, is actually made tangible in the concept for every visitor.

From the first site visit, we started thinking about the current situation and identity of the
place. We have made a thorough analysis, study, and reflection on which our vision is based
is: in order to offer a high-quality total solution that is future-proof, we advise all city services to be realized on the site of the former boys’ school, adjacent to the historic board house. Building 2000 will be demolished to make way for the expansion of the school and a high-quality outdoor space that is returned to the Grimbergen resident. Obviously, the choice for this procedure did not happen overnight. We have an argument here made from a rational and emotional point of view.

Rational Argumentation

Building 2000 does not comply with the current legislative fire standards. Adapting the building to current fire standards is such a technical and complex intervention that alters the spatiality of the building and does not benefit. The current atrium and staircase that be the heart of the building and for high spatial quality concerns are no longer required to comply with these regulations comply. In addition, this is not a cost-effective solution.

If the 2000 building is preserved and renovated is made to meet the requirements of the specifications and the current legislation, the functioning of the city services will be disturbed to a certain extent by the various planned interventions. It must be realized here that the operation and quality of service during this phase inevitably be disrupted. By choosing a new construction in which building 2000 is preserved, the functioning of the city services continues to function. Only when the new building is ready and the city services have moved completely, building 2000 was demolished and replaced by the extension of the school.

The fact that a renovation is not started from an empty leaf, entails that the currently existing structure will have to be thoroughly analyzed in order to correctly assess risks. Nevertheless, can there are still unexpected things when dismantling the structure, and unforeseen risks are discovered.

Building 2000 has a very high gross / net–surface ratio with a lot of circulation in proportion

to the usable surface that can be used effectively as an office environment. This ratio can be used in a new building optimized, striving for a compact building with limited and logical walking routes and an office space tailored to the users.

We should not start from the existing spaces but may require the schedule rewrite to achieve a more efficient building. When choosing a new building, we aim for a BEN building. This always scores better energetically than a BEN renovation: guaranteeing airtightness of the building envelope, and minimizing construction nodes,…

We create a structure that can be used flexibly, so that can transform the building over time according to the needs of the user. By building compactly, the maintenance costs are better controlled resulting in lower running and energy costs. So this is both today and savings in the future. (TCO: total cost of ownership)

A partial renovation implies that not all problems can be removed from a building and is in this therefore not a sustainable solution. In a new building can we specify the parameters and preconditions to which compliance must be kept under full control and maximize.

Building 2000 was built on the plot boundary, which means that there is only limited light on the side of the KBC building can be taken; because of the law on lights and

views of the plot boundary (cf. renewal of the interior of the accounting department is not sufficient to create a quality work environment because of limited spaciousness, little light and perspective, and therefore no sustainable solution). In addition, this implant also has a high impact on the neighboring plots. Lose due to the new construction pulling and demolishing the building in 2000 we create space on 4 sides around the building. By creating 4 uniform facades and separating the building from the plot boundary, we also create great added value for the neighboring plots.

On all sides of the new building, quality offices are furnished; the workplaces of all employees have the same quality. Equality for all is pursued. By preserving the basement of the 2000 building and to recover as a basis for the school, we can lower school entry fees. A new implant of the school would, after all, require a new foundation, while in this case, we use the existing basement as a foundation use. At the same time, the cost of the basement cover is lower for the municipality because this is a shared cost with the school.

Placing the bicycle sheds in the basement seems in the first place an obvious solution, but is in reality impractical, inefficient, and less accessible. In our vision, however, due to the space created around the building bicycle sheds on the ground floor are provided which improves the accessibility of the building.

By spreading different functions and walking routes in the current building 2000 it is very difficult to make the building available to third parties outside the opening hours. Choosing a rational structure and organization of the new building can be done in a smart way through a part of the building outside opening hours being used by third parties.

The demolition of the current building 2000 will be very sustainable construed with an emphasis on the recovery of the materials and components already used. The circular economy makes an integral part of this and forms the basis for developing a sustainable future.

We hereby refer to the presentation of the contractor in which it is described in detail how they use their circular construction method.

In the current situation, the open space between the buildings is occupied by a maze of parking. There is no clear parking policy, which means that parents are fairly short until they drive to school gates to drop off their children and hereby to perform various maneuvers. Hereby the traffic safety of the school site. In our vision, the project area will become a traffic-free zone to improve the safety of the school environment. On the Prinsenstraat will be a double kiss & ride strip constructed where parents can drop off their children and pick them up. By clearing the building, the Onze- Lady extra soft access was created from the Centre.

To meet Integral Accessibility standards every difference in level must be compensated with a staircase and lift or ramp. In the new construction, the existing floor levels of the historic building. Within the new administrative center, there will be no barriers due to internal level differences on 1 level. By avoiding these internal level differences we can avoid extra measures and make the building more compact and integrally accessible.

If you choose to renovate the current building 2000 it is difficult to maintain the spatial qualities and improve and the risk of the impoverishment of the quality is much greater.

Building 2000 is so outdated that despite the planned renovations deficiencies in the existing structure, techniques,… will continue to occur. because of this maintenance and repair costs will remain to continue in the future.

Emotional argumentation

The new building will create new spaces for the resident of Grimbergen; both inside and outside. We are creating a new high-quality public space with higher affordability. In a new town hall with the appearance of a home for everyone.

The location of the extension of the school on the site of the 2000 building provides an integrated total concept and interesting interaction between the different functions of arising school, town hall, and library.

The ceremonial functions in the historic building are given a direct link and access to the upgraded village square. The village square is an extension of these functions and can be used for ceremonial ceremonies, waving goodbye to a newlywed couple,…

The master plan provides for extending the identity of the Prinsenbos, where the valuable existing trees are maximally preserved and upgraded in a green environment. Extra efforts are made for biodiversity, sustainability, water infiltration, etc.

The new building has respect for the historic building and in this way integrates perfectly into the historic village center. The appearance of the building is appropriate, integrated, and harmonious.

The new entrance is again in the picture in the design and is placed centrally in the public domain: on the head of the tower building, clearly recognizable and legible. The history is being reinstated.

If we opt for partial new construction and preservation of the existing office environment in the 2000 building, only some of the employees have a ‘new’ qualitative workplace. Part of the city services remains organized in the office environment, albeit renovated, in the year 2000.

In our concept, all employees get a ‘new’ workplace, everyone is equal in the new concept.

The overall picture of a partial new construction and the preservation of building 2000 results in a succession of buildings: the historic building with the management house – building 2000 – extension in the form of a new part. The result is a mix of different styles, there is no unity anymore.

The new building will be a multifunctional building in which the administrative center, library, and tourist information point. As icing on the cake, a roof terrace with an adjacent refectory/cafeteria and a beautiful view of the village, the basilica, and the Prinsenbos. Accessible through this for everyone – employees and visitors – becomes the town hall as a connecting factor in the center of Grimbergen highlighted.

The NAC will be an open building where everyone will find their place. It principle of “Design for All” is applied to the maximum.

Building 2000 is experienced as a complex and difficult legible building by the internal organization. By creating a new building with a flexible and clear structure emphasis is placed on a legible and understandable building. This comes also improves the service.

The focus is on a library of the future. Through connect it directly to the public part of the administrative center, there is a close interaction between both functions. The library is, as it were, an extension of the administrative center and can function as a flexible workplace. Becomes a pleasant open space created with lots of natural light which is multifunctional. A direct connection to the environment is laid by integrating the patio, a courtyard with reading stairs.