FIRST LOOK: Tony Fretton Architects has won an international competition for a new five-story €11.75m Administrative Centre in Deinze, Belgium
The new building provides 8,000m² of accommodation and comprises office space for 100 staff, a large archive and staff canteen in addition to a 250m² council chamber, public meeting rooms and new quarters for the mayor and town alderman.
The design sets the administrative accommodation in a five-storey building, which runs parallel to Deinze’s principal market street. The council chamber is a free-standing double height room which projects out of the building toward the market street and cathedral.
Raised on ‘monumental legs’ to first floor level, the chamber creates a sheltered public space and entrance beneath. A new south-facing public garden overlooking the river is created in the embrace of the two building forms.
The windows of the building are set behind columns of Belgian marble to form a loggia, which provides shaded external space for staff. As well as creating a pleasant microclimate the loggias will be used to display planting and public sculpture for the mutual enjoyment of staff and the public at large. Inside, large public foyers are incorporated on each floor, which act as informal meeting spaces between members of the public and administrative staff and officials.
The council chamber has floor to ceiling windows, putting the activity of the council chamber and its frescoed ceiling on display to the people of Deinze. The practice competed in a final shortlist with four other European practices; awg architecten - with Alain Bossuyt (Antwerp, Belgium), De Smet Vermeulen architecten bvba (Gent, Belgium), uapS Anne Mie Depuydt & Erik Van Daele (Paris, France), mlzd (Biel, Switzerland).
The project is Tony Fretton Architects’ first in Belgium. The practice is currently building civic and residential projects in Poland, Denmark and the Netherlands.