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The Herkenrode site is located in the center of the city of Hasselt. The site first served as a military domain and was subsequently set up as a zone for government functions of the Federal government. The city of Hasselt sold the site through a sales procedure to create a comprehensive redevelopment within the framework of Hasselt’s inner-city development.

One of the most characteristic buildings on the site is the so-called “White Barracks”, which is a stately barracks building dating from the 19th century, which was painted white at the end of the 20th century, explaining the name. It is, among others, this building that UHasselt wanted to repurpose. More specifically, it mainly houses the Institute for Mobility, where research is conducted on the interaction between behavior, infrastructure, and technology. During the research phase, it was decided to further expand the program and also move UHasselt’s finance department and personnel service to the White Barracks.

Next to the White Barracks, we find the “Gatehouse”, a classified building from the 16th century that was originally used as a refuge house for the Herkenrode abbey. This building was taken on by the architectural firm Abscis, who made it possible for the rectorate to move here. The ceremony hall and the multipurpose room were also completely renewed, the gallery on the ground floor was thoroughly renovated and regained an entrance via the Maastrichterstraat. In the White Barracks, a goods lift and a large kitchen ensure the integration of the catering which will be used for events in the Gatehouse.

Engineering consultancy Enerdo took care of the integration of the techniques that were completely renewed for both the White Barracks and the Gatehouse. The roof and the windows were also renewed to be energetically ready for the future. Moreover, both buildings were completely cleared of asbestos-containing materials.

The original internal structure of The White Barracks proved to be extremely suitable for conversion into offices, so few structural interventions were needed. The whole was stripped down to the bare structure, allowing old valuable elements to be restored to their original state. For instance, on the ground floor, the barrel vaults were left exposed and beautifully highlighted. The original skylights which provided daylight to the long central corridor were also restored and expanded.

After stripping the floor, 2 large spaces became visible; these were probably the old dormitories of the Barracks. One of them was transformed into offices for 4 to 6 people. The other was converted into a large interactive classroom for the students of the Mobility program.

The attic floor, a large open space with visible trusses, was kept in its entirety. Glass meeting rooms were placed loosely in the space to create zones between the different work islands. To bring in sufficient air and light, a rhythm of hefty dormer windows was placed in both the Eastern and the Western roof surfaces.

UHasselt also wishes to be able to accommodate other services in the building in the future, which is perfectly possible thanks to its flexibility.

  • Location: Hasselt, Belgium
  • Program: Educational
  • Area: 3.600 m²
  • Year: 2023
  • Status: Realized