Using efficiently the ground is a main necessity in the structure of the cities form the 21st century. Cities today require an intelligent densification and sensitive to the movement and human activities; an exercise of design where the distribution of space uses and the voids that act like lungs, meeting or transition points, establish a scale ratio that optimises services and paths.
The acknowledgement of underutilized or residual spaces, and its redesign and use, are a sample of the contemporary relation with the city, which allows a compaction where the personal needs and the development of the community acquire the same importance.
The intervention of enlargement of a branch from the Fintro Bank in the Belgian city of Herentals, carried out by the RDVA studio, turns, in small scale, into an example of optimization of the ground and space cohesion.
The project consists of an extension of the banking office, located in the ground floor of an apartment building. The bank is located between two party walls, connecting the street and a wide empty space used as a parking. The branch goes through the building, lining up with the facade to the street, and creating an irregular line in its back projection, with an added volume and a closed courtyard.
Here is where the enlargement takes place, in the space occupied by the former courtyard after demolishing its enclosure. The intervention, embedded as a piece, not only completes the back volume, but also gives scale, and closes, giving coherence to the whole construction; everything without renouncing at any moment to the architectural language, the richness of spaces and the creating of views.
The RDVA project recognizes instantly the possibilities of a space that used to be at the back of the building. Its intervention turns into a process of ending and finishing, by adding one last piece, with architectural language different to the rest, based on the interconnection and space cohesion.
The new piece configures as a small hall of 3.50m height, great transparency and lightness. Made by steel and transparent glass, and slightly elevated from the ground, it’s understood as a box of light that goes 9.70m in the heart of the construction. Always chasing the continuity, the intervention does not occupies all the empty space, but saves a small inner courtyard that connects the old and the new, acting as a diaphragm. Likewise, it sticks out externally breaking the facade line, as if the building box had been moved setting free at the back the space for the new courtyard. Thanks to this displacement, it creates an internal facade, giving entity and importance to the new intervention in spite of the small scale, while externally is perfectly understood the difference of volumes.
The meeting room of 21 m2 and the office of 18m2, the uses that the piece receives, are separated physical but not visually. From the outside they can be covered with a glance up to the new courtyard; is from the working space when both spaces are visually divided, easing the concentration in the job. The furniture, key element in this project, is made of cherry wood, in just one element with multiple functions, custom-made in order to harbor the objects that they hold before: heaters, printers, paper bins, even the coffee machine, all these uses are facilitated by sliders. The furniture acts like a big machine that divides the space. In the same way, the tables are adapted to get rid of annoying cables. The furniture is designed in an intelligent way to keep the space clean.
The new construction, light and with a flat roof, connects to the already existing one made by stout bricks and rounded roof, through the old exit doors to the courtyard, from the lot that has access to the parking. In this way, this lot between both spaces turns into an internal corridor, and frees the hall from the transit.
What used to be a courtyard in the back, without connection nor standing out, turns into a piece that harbors all the uses required for the functioning of the branch with great flexibility, with a visual continuity that enlightens and supports an image of trust, a contemporization of the perception of the building, and a free space which acquires scale and communicates spaces. The RDVA intervention oxygenates the space.
Text by Ana Asensio
Translation by Natalia Dalinkevicius