Belgacom HQ

competition design
In 1994, when it was still a small architecture firm taking its first steps, POLO won the design contest for a new regional office and operating centre for the telecom company Belgacom, planned for construction in Hasselt.
Location

Hasselt
Belgium

Year
1994
Surface area
41.150m²
Status
competition design
Client
Belgacom

The building plot was wedged between the ring road around Hasselt, the railway tracks, and a residential neighbourhood. The major design challenge was to ensure that the requested 30,000 m² in surface area did not intervene too brutally in the city’s residential fabric.

Rather than build upwards, the design concentrates the requested office space in a two-storey structure which occupies the entire plot. This prevents the building from towering excessively over the adjacent residential area. The entire structure has been placed on piles, creating room for a large, open car park under the building.

In order to provide sufficient daylight for a structure of this size, various patios have been carved into the building. At least 40% of the plot is still green and open space, although it is contained within the building perimeter.

Telecom companies are constantly evolving due to rapidly changing communication technologies. That is why the design provides for a highly flexible office layout. The various services offered by the corporation are clustered around the patios and can grow or shrink according to changing needs. Each patio has its own shape, atmosphere and identity. The patios serve as landmarks for orientation and recognizability.

The building shows a different face on each side. On the side facing the residential area, various green patios cut through the facade. The fragmented facade thereby aligns itself with the finer grain of the residential area. The other facades are more robust and metropolitan in style. Along the railway tracks, the office building has a long glass facade. Along the ring road, a curved utilitarian volume responds to the dynamics of the viaduct.

Belgacom was the first major contest that POLO Architects won. The high-profile project garnered widespread praise. It marked the start of the young architecture firm’s growth. Although the project was never executed – a new CEO set different priorities – various design gestures were incorporated into later projects, for instance in the plans for the expansion of Telenet’s headquarters.

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