At the beginning of October, the Ghent construction company Wyckaert moved into a brand new headquarters. The building can be seen from the highway and is particularly notable for the façade cladding in green ceramic tiles, which provides a very nuanced appearance. Depending on the incidence of light or the time of day, the façade image seems to be constantly changing . The ceramic tiles are designed in two sizes with a different wavy relief in a green colour that refers to the construction company's company logo. Due to this wave and the alternation between the two formats, a refraction of the light is created. The effect is that the building looks completely different on a sunny or cloudy day, says Lieven Achtergael of Architecten Achtergael, who designed the building.
The new head office is conceived as a showcase for the construction company. Equally striking, but less visible to the eye, is the way in which the office and warehouse are integrated into one design. Usually an office unit is built for a construction company next to a work and stack shed. Not in this case: an envelope enwraps the warehouse and the four-storey office building as a whole, separated by a walled inner garden. “You can see the complex as a large boat with a steering cabin. The building is literally controlled by the people sitting above it. The choice to link the office building and the warehouse also strengthens Wyckaert's identity. The location on the motorway is very visible, making the building an anchor point in the area. At the same time, the inner garden provides the necessary intimacy. The ceramics cover extends over all entities, giving the shed a refined appearance. Furthermore, a lot of glassware was chosen. In the office tower, floor-to-ceiling windows alternate with large concrete awnings that serve as natural sun protection. The cantilevered awnings are a kind of window display that gives more depth and volume to the tower. The glass is 1.5 m deeper than the building facade, which not only ensures that the sun is kept out, it also gives the user a sense of security.
The office building has a fairly simple structure. The plinth includes the reception area, meeting rooms, dining room and some offices. Above this, the offices are stacked in four almost equal floors. A central core acts as a pivot between the different spaces and levels. The concrete core not only regulates the vertical circulation and functional spaces, but is also a kind of landmark within the building. All offices are positioned around it. They are fully glazed, so that there is sufficient privacy, but also contact with the rest of the workplace. The transparent layout with glass walls ensures that pleasant natural light is present deep into the building. Nevertheless, every office can be closed off with semi-transparent curtains. They help ensure that the office building radiates a certain homeliness. The interior is soft and sober, with some special features, especially on the ground floor, such as the counter in black natural stone and sculptural spiral staircase in metal. Wyckaert mainly wants to create a pleasant environment for its own employees. The glass walls and sober materials are not only an aesthetic or practical choice, but a translation of the transparent and rather horizontal structure in the organization. The new office building must be a place where you "come home". For example, the end face of the central concrete core has been finished on every level as a kitchenette or printer area, where the flex areas or social corners are also located in orde to stimulate collaboration and spontaneous meetings. There is even a gym on the basement level. It has become a very humane building that focuses as much as possible on the user: we work, but there is also room for rest and relaxation.
An important role is reserved for greenery, which is integrated in various ways. A roof garden has been created on top of the ground floor roof and two walled inner gardens are situated on the ground floor. A small one near the covered entrance, which serves both the cafeteria and the lobby. And a large one between the shed and the office building, which creates a view of green from the cafeteria, the meeting rooms, the lobby and the offices on the ground floor. As soon as you enter, you enter a different world: you leave the hard asphalt plain and are immediately surrounded by light, air and greenery,” says Isabelle Dierickx. "The inner gardens provide privacy and tranquility, in contrast to the busy motorway and sometimes the harsh world of construction.
The new office building easily achieves the BEN standard. To heat and cool the complex, a BEO field is used. Solar panels provide almost the entire energy supply.