The relation between the built environment and the person is a dialogue where both take part. The architecture, through space, light, colour, materialness, temperature, etc., produces a series of physical and emotional sensations that the person perceives. At the same time, the movements and behaviours of the person, or the use of space and its comprehension, basically, how we understand that surrounding and how we react to it, will be a human respond that might alter the physical space.
It has been proved that, for example, using certain chromatism can have as a result an activation of mental activity, while these same tones wrongly used can cause brain exhaustion. The spaces which contain pieces of art and lively colours specifically can activate the creativity, just like packed environments can cause saturation and stress.
If we apply this premises to the architecture of an office, where people spend a big part of their days focused on developing their chores, is easy to understand that concentration, balance and clarity must be in harmony with creativity, productivity and proactivity. But besides, people must enjoy the space. The accounting firm Optifisk NV and the architects RDVA, who have projected their office in Herentals (Belgium), seem to have understood it perfectly.
The Optifisk NV office occupies part of the ground floor and the basement of a building placed between Augustijnenlaan Street and San Jobstraat Street designed by the same team of architects. The building, with 3 offices in the lower levels, 7 spacious apartments in levels 1 and 2, and an underground parking, stands out in the block with 4 facades with a great visual power, clearly differentiated from the outside the domestic and working uses through the election of material: external concrete at the street level shaped with a vertical trim and vertical wooden slats for the houses.
The direct link of RDVA with both designs gives the internal configuration project of the office a complete coherence in relation with the whole building. Its vision, besides, is aligned with the client’s vision, whose premise is to create a clear and neat office, of great transparency, where expressiveness, colour and warmth are also welcome and give the different spaces personality and closeness. The project stands between minimalism and artistic expression: the spaces full of serenity thanks to the treatment of light and the wise use of wood, the white, the oak flooring and the transparency of glazed spaces, they activate like unique pieces of art and design, including furniture, which gives personal identity and makes easy to recognize and differentiate each one of them.
To ensure the lighting of both lower levels, there is a courtyard at one of its ends to which the building leans with big picture windows. That courtyard is lined with travertine tiles, up to the edge of a pond where the pieces of art are located. The reflection of the light on the whitish walls and the stone flooring, added to the reflection of the water, leads the light to the basement, at the same time that the sculpture made by overlapping wood trunks, of great verticality and intense red, catches and unifies the visual from both storeys.
This need of connecting the higher level and the basement is a constant intention that is perceived in all the gestures of the RDVA project. The communication core, to which other closed sections are added, turns into a central wooden box , element of reference in both levels. Except for this central box made in oak, all the rest is open spaces, therefore, the movement is free, or, in the case of those that require certain independence like the meeting room and the main offices, delimited by transparent glass panels that allow visual flow without saturating the space.
The final result, both, the entire building and the design of inner office space, is a construction of an important visual power, but at the same time is calm. The design work is multi-scalar, one can tell by the general configuration as well as by the small details, with a very careful work of the material. Everything is where it must be, in its right measure, building a balanced dialogue between users and architecture.
Writing: Ana Asensio
Translation: Natalia Dalinkevicius