Van Laere HQ
The office floor plates of the building designed by POLO Architecture are anything but generic to start with. The large expanses of open space have a distinct character due to the central core in rough, board-marked concrete and the timber beams and columns. The columns especially are an unusual and space-defining presence, their sturdy cruciform shapes visually subdividing the space into a continuous field of rectangular “rooms”. The laminated timber also brings to mind the warm character of the city mansions that served as inspiration for the design of the building.
Within this flexible framework, we express different elements in a limited number of materials. The guiding principle during this design process was to have the interior design be an expression and extension of the underlying building structure. We devised a simple and consistent system of components and materials which contributes to an easy readability of the space and a serene office ambience.
As pointed out, the straightforward concept of the building — essentially a glass box sitting in the landscape — is enlivened by the expressive materials of the structure: the rough concrete of the core and the warm textures of the wooden structure. Steel details such as handrails, stairs and balustrades are finished in the same dark green colour as the facade elements of curtain wall and sunscreens. These architectural elements are the not-so-neutral canvas on which we build to conceive a harmonious interior design.
Interior fittings and furnishings fit within the architectural framework. Climate ceilings are suspended inside the grid of timber beams. They add a fine linear articulation to the ceiling with gaps allowing for air circulation, activating the concrete slabs’ thermal mass to modulate the internal climate.
The fixed cabinetry is mostly slotted into recesses in the concrete central core. It is executed in greyish green solid surface and HPL veneers. The freestanding reception counter on the ground floor and the kitchen island make use of the same materials. Adjacent to the core, the washrooms are accommodated in a large freestanding volume in the same grey-green colour, essentially expressing it as a large piece of furniture sitting in the office landscape.
Dividing walls are mostly located within the wooden portal frames: their white surfaces are set within dark metal frames that form the transition between the wall plane and the structural members. Glass partitions make use of the same dark metal frames, setting up a consistent formal language for these flexible partitions.
Client-facing services are concentrated on the ground floor. Here the floors are finished in durable concrete-look ceramic tiles. On the upper levels the offices feature carpeted floors on a raised floor system, setting up an acoustically comfortable work environment.
Soft furnishings include lounge seating in understated colours. A meeting box in bright yellow provides a pop of colour and whimsical note within the warm embrace of the minimalist office landscape.