The new headquarters of financial group Buysse & Partners find their new home inside the famous BP Building in Antwerp, Belgium, designed by Leon Stynen in 1963. Author of the sensitive renovation is Studio Farris Architects. The theme of domesticity of the office space, which distinguishes this new project is achieved through an interplay of openings and relationships between the rooms and through the use of materials and finishes that act as a counterpoint to the imposing structure of the existing building.
The encounter with Stynen’s architecture allows Studio Farris Architects to create a sort of long-distance dialogue. Farris gives new voice to the innovative project, an icon of modernity in Belgian architecture. Balancing structural rationality and material sensibility, an explicit geometric matrix guides the organization of the new offices inside an iconic building of Belgian modernism. A sense of domesticity of the workspace reinterprets an extraordinary work, on over 800 square meters of surface.
The BP Building, built in 1963 by Leon Stynen (1899- 1990), is located outside the historical city center, at the corner of Jan Van Rijswijcklaan and Camille Huysmanslaan, very close to the R1 ring road. An icon of modernity, innovative and elegant, it is the object of a renovation that enhanced the original structural design of Stynen. The cantilevers and the grid of the facade are supported by steel cables hanging from nine transverse beams placed on the top of the building that rest on the two main beams.
This beams in turn release all the weight on the reinforced concrete core. This solution provides all floors of the building with transparency and flexible distribution. The project entailed demolishing the existing partitions and designing a workspace that had a home working atmosphere. The concept developed by Studio Farris for the new offices therefore led to maximizing the interaction with the exuberant transparency of the building by Stynen.
The new plan layout highlights the distribution determined by the arrangement of cables on the facade and, at the same time, gives a greater openness to the work spaces and to the various lounge areas. A ceiling made of black lacquered aluminum elements, rectangular in section and aligned, guides one through the various rooms. Prevalent in the common areas, where it runs along the length of the building, the false ceiling also extends to the closed spaces, always maintaining the correspondence with the modulation of the windows and hence of the structure.
The flooring of the open and circulation spaces is made with a square patterned hardwood floor so as not to determine a direction to follow but rather to accommodate the structural modularity of the building in both directions. The tiling of the closed spaces varies according to the function of the room: checkerboard tiles in the kitchen, “metro” tiles in the bathroom, a carpet in the meeting rooms.
Wooden shelving units, also which have been arranged according to Stynen’s plan layout, serve as dividers in the work and relaxation areas. The reception area defines an airy space that opens completely to the outdoors. A lounge area is located here, which is complemented by a bar and counter where one can eat and have informal gatherings. At either end of the floor plan are the meeting rooms.
On the one hand, there is the executive meeting room with an additional relaxation area where meetings with clients and partners can take place. On the opposite side are the other meeting rooms and three small sound-proof chat rooms.The theme of domesticity in the office space finds expression in some solutions that Giuseppe Farris has developed to give substance and materiality to a rigorous space.
So the transition from one room to another is marked by a thick black polished wooden frame that, in accentuating once again the structural scheme, adds a sense of comfort and elegance which contributes to enhance the interplay between the rooms and the sense of domesticity. The same is true for the partitions, treated with slaked lime, which reinterpret, with a sensitivity close to some works by Carlo Scarpa, the materiality of the cement found in the central core of the building.
The completion of the new Buysse & Partners Headquarters is an important milestone in the professional activity of Studio Farris Architects, which is involved in projects that range from domestic to large-scale urban transformations, many of them in Belgium where the studio is also based. At this moment, among other projects, the studio headed by Giuseppe Farris is completing a project for the regeneration of an entire block in the center of Zottegen and is finalizing a large residential and public program in Anderlecht. Source by Studio Farris Architects and photos Courtesy of CULTIVAR.