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Serpentine, Bilzen Belgium, Headquarters Brick Manufacturer Vandersanden - competition laureate

Reconversion and extension of an existing office building - Technical Research Center – Academy – Showroom – Offices Competition Laureat

In about one hundred years, the company grew from a local artisanal producing company to become one of the biggest players on the European market.

The company wants to keep expanding and leading through innovation, even though it manufactures a product that is mostly linked to traditional buildings and houses.

 Therefore, the competition's aim was to reflect these higher ambitions, seeking to implement traditional materials in a creative way.

Site is located in the center of a small Belgian rural town, along a district road. It is flanked by the brick factory's existing production halls and the old chimney, which stands up to 80m tall as a reminder of a long tradition.

 We decided to incorporate the existing office building into the new project as it was a snake swallowing the old, whilemeandering along the existing halls towards the new square where it opens up its snakehead as an entrance to the public spaces.

Another design goal was emphasizing the old chimney by putting it in the center of a public square, with the entrance to the newly constructed building directly opposed to it. This is old meets new, tradition feeds innovation. From all directions, we offer several areas for guests to engage in different activities and experience new things.

The program unfolds over different levels, with the offices themselves located lower than the adjacent square in front of the factory

The volume is directed towards the remaining chimney as a reminder of how bricks were made in the past.

It is impossible to change the traffic flow in which trucks supply and remove their cargo along a well-defined route.

This is the reason the volume is raised in the middle, so that the existing flow is not interrupted, even during construction work.

From the new showroom you can watch the coming and going of trucks through the glass bridge.

The shape of the new building is also a direct result of the boundary conditions set out by the road, the existing buildings and the central pass-through for the truck entrance towards their docking area.

Over the central truck entrance “the bridge” is the central point where all the flows pass through; from entrance to exhibition area, from auditorium to the relaxation and dining area, from the experience center to the main office space.

The façade unfolds as a semi-transparent skin over the functions it inhabits. Using parametric software, specific perforations have been defined according to the function behind the surface.

Because of this, light penetrates the volume in mysterious and ever-changing ways, depending on the season, sunshine, weather, etc. The skin of the building is reminiscent of the skin of a serpent.

Competition Laureate - unfortunately the design will not be build as a consequence of covid.

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