- Location: Leopoldsburg
- Program: City Hall
- Area: 3.800 m²
- Year: 2018
- Status: Realized
- Link: www.leopoldsburg.be
- Label: BEN-gebouw, BREEAM excellent
Centrally located between the wooded military domain and the municipal center, the site of the town hall can be found. At the front, the site is bordered by the Koningin Astridplein. The original building on the site dates from 1856 but has been renovated several times at the back. Only the front building has any historical value and also lends identity to the square as well as Leopoldsburg. In the form of Design & Build, the town council has tendered a contract for the design of a new town hall in the current location.
With the iconic value of the front building in mind, it has opted to separate the front building from the rear building and demolish the rear part. The demolition made it possible to view the historical front building from different angles. This made for a visual quality that previously was not possible. This was one of the most important components of the concept of the new building. On the outside, a canvas was created against which the front building can be appreciated even better. By constructing a glass facade several meters behind the existing building, reflection created a unique visual relation from the square. In this manner, one can perceive both the front and the back of the historical building at a single glance. Rather than choosing standard reflecting glass, we have sought a reflecting glass plate with highly energetic performances. Because of this, the possibility was created to provide these facades entirely with glass while still guaranteeing a pleasant indoor climate. A unique coating on the glass offers an ochre reflection. In this manner, a canvas is created that clearly contrasts with the white front building.
Reflections and surprising sights continue to come forward throughout the building. When entering through the central access, for instance, the skeleton of the front building will suddenly become visible. The historical segment is returned to the residents as a multifunctional area.
A new building has been erected in a very rational manner with attention to functionality and flexibility. Upon entering the new building the visual connections with the wooded area at the back become visible. On every level, a visual connection between these two worlds, nature, and construction, is possible. In terms of implementation, the decision was made, together with the town council, to keep the ground floor and the first floor publicly accessible. Inside the town hall, an iconic reception desk and monumental staircase welcome the visitor. The desk bends towards the waiting area of the offices while the staircase takes the visitor through the void to the floor where the wedding and council hall is located.
All the higher floors function as back-office with on the top floor the lunch area with an outdoor terrace. This level is conceived as a set-back volume that is visible at the front but is receded in the rear facade. Because of this, the building appears to be one level lower at the back than at the side of the square. The floors are subdivided into a labyrinth structure with walls in order to create optimized workplaces and work clusters. At the same time, one can circulate freely across a floor without having to use a single door. A very well-balanced use of materials and choice of colors determine the unique character of the building, which inspires or motivates its users in their day-to-day functioning.
The project especially distinguishes itself on the basis of layout, where the office floors are designed as an open plateau and there are no physical hallways.
The project especially distinguishes itself on the basis of layout, where the office floors are designed as an open plateau and there are no physical hallways. It cannot be confused with open landscape architecture, however, as several services and clusters are separated, both visually and acoustically, by the intelligent integration of additional closed walls, glass walls, curtains, and furniture. This ensures that the employee experiences peace and privacy at his workplace. The optimal elimination of hallways and circulation provides an added surface that can be allocated to workplaces or other functional usable spaces.
Various types of workplaces have been created. On a basic level, a standard workplace has been provided for everyone in his section. This ensures that everyone has a workplace that can be given a personal touch and because of which the employee feels at home. In addition to the fixed basic places, areas for meetings have been integrated. These have 2 characters: open and closed. An open meeting place is visually separated from the workplace with walls or cabinets but cannot be closed off entirely. The closed meeting places can be closed off entirely by means of an acoustic curtain. The advantage of this is that the closed character can be a personal decision. In addition, these meeting areas can also be used as workplaces if a group works together on a project or if an individual wishes to withdraw from his section to work individually.
On every floor, coffee corners have been provided and on the top floor, a large cafeteria with a terrace can be found, which also offers the possibility to sit down as a group or individually and to work in an informal manner. A strategic position of staircase and elevator cores ensures that minimal circulation is necessary to reach one’s workplace. This has the advantage that potential visual or sound nuisance due to circulation remains limited. In addition, all workplaces are flanked by story-high windows. Because of this, a maximal amount of natural light enters the area. To avoid dazzle when the sun is at a low position, the employee can choose to close a curtain. These curtains filter the light and are not darkening so that an outside view is maintained. The use of material and the color scheme have been chosen to radiate a warm, intimate, and homey atmosphere. In the office areas, the floor is finished with a qualitative carpet tile. It will be absorbent and also eliminate the sound of moving chairs or walking people. The ceiling is finished with an acoustic spray plaster. Because of this, no acoustic baffles or suspended ceilings will be necessary and the maximal ceiling height is guaranteed. The high ceilings give a sense of spaciousness.
In terms of ventilation, every floor is conceived as a single zone where a network of air ducts throughout the floor provides fresh air and where there is one central extraction. For air conditioning, every floor of the new building has been divided into 2 zones. Thus, the building can cool down on the sunny side if this is required while the side without sun can be heated if necessary and by means of floor heating. The result is that there is the same pleasant temperature everywhere on a single floor. In addition, floor convectors have been provided along the glass. These convectors can respond more speedily and work demand-driven so that the employees can slightly alter the temperature locally, as preferred. Thanks to all these technical efforts, the building has a K-level of 28 and an E-level of 37 and is, therefore, a BEN-building./Thanks to all these technical efforts, the building complies with the building energy label requirements. In addition to these efforts, the building meets the BREEAM EXCELLENT score.