December 2018 marks the end of work on HD54, delivering 10.000sqm of office space for client AXA BELGIUM after more than 18 months of heavy refurbishment.
The transformed built and unbuilt forms and landscaping have considerably modified the initial 1980ís building. Notable changes outside include a new staggered skyline overlooking the ForÍt de Soignes, a scaled down mass responding to low-lying neighbours north, and large carved-out loggias offering framed views of the surroundings. These inside-out loggias, along with re-organized circulations and fluid workspace spilling out onto stepped-back terraces, demonstrate that work has equally concentrated on qualifying what goes on inside. User-comfort for example has led to fine-tuned sun and glare protection. This detail-driven thinking results in delicately calibered shading and made-to-measure metal works on the facades. Well-being criteria have led to timber facades, carefully elaborated in order to maximise daylight inflow and minimise cooling needs. Their large-scale pre-fabrication off site has led to extra-ordinary quality control thus ensuring the sustainability of the ensemble not to mention minimum site-impact.
Finally, the extent to which the building's original double-pane glazing, earth-toned bricks and good-as-new partitions have been convincingly upcycled elsewhere proves that large-scale efforts to integrate circular economy can work when motivated client, architect and contractor (BPC) put their minds to it.
Time spent such important global issues have led to little energy left for formal antics. Indeed, given HD54ís strategic position marking Brusselsí eastern gate, just sitting there draws attention Ö thereby justifying a minimalist approach to facade design. Windows are straight-forwardly positioned following the initial 1980ís layout when possible and pertinent, opaque zones simply clad in glass-mosaic, and sun-shading self-evidently distributed following the 90cm grid present throughout. Nothing very savant, the whole very intuitive. But it remains crucial to understand that this whole is forcefully served by detail-oriented efforts made at all design AND building sub-stages, addressing head-on the humble down-to-earth task of getting things (well) done as shown below.
architectesassoc wishes to thank all participants for the wonderful ride.