We are a2o, a multidisciplinary team of designers.
With our complementary expertise and skills, we are connected by shared values.
Our competences cover architecture, urban and landscape design, interior and details and spatial transitions through research by design.
a2o is a breeding ground for innovation. In our projects, we e strive for innovation to raise the levels of collective values, social engagement and sustainability.
We do so by creating for ourselves, our clients and our design partners an ‘open research area’ in which we conduct spatial experiments, a lab where we can conceptualise and test the spatial impact and societal benefits.
Our approach is adapted to today’s complex and layered reality, in which we systematically seek to unveil hidden opportunities. This open research area is created by the team’s interdisciplinary expertise and by the way in which we work in our physical working environment.
Our main office - de Silo in Hasselt - is a creative hub that we share with other entrepreneurs and cultural organizations. With our office in Brussels, we are located in the heart of the dynamic capital of Europe. Our approach allows us to strive for imagination and innovation, avoiding generic solutions or architectural arbitrariness. Our investigative attitude not only constitutes the basis of all of our projects, it also aims at a high degree of reflection and capacity building within the team.
Space is a scarce commodity that is claimed by multiple actors in our societies. When a space becomes built up, it is purposed for a specific programme for a long period of time. Buildings are surrounded by public spaces that belong to everyone. All users have their own expectations of it and are confronted with the expectations of others. All our work revolves around facilitating the dialogue between building and public space, and between diverse users and beings.
Designing is an activity of connecting. We design buildings that connect with their environment. We are conscious of the effects that our interventions have on the larger scale of the village, city, landscape and territory.
We define our mission as the search for architecture, which is a cultural act leading to building. Spaces can be defined as meaningful places through social, cultural and historical values. We emphasize this definition in every project by striving for added value, aiming to reinforce the sociocultural narrative of each place.
A good design is a durable design. We believe that resilience is a key condition for making a spatial intervention in the urban landscape. Resilience means that spaces, both existing and newly designed ones, possess the quality to outlive their primary life cycle. After this cycle, a space can accommodate new users or functions, even though that space was not initially designed for such new functions.
Our commitment to resilient design is in line with the ethos of nature's adaptability and endurance. Just as natural ecosystems possess an inherent ability to weather the tests of time, we envision spaces as ecosystems capable of outliving their intended lifecycles. Our spatial interventions aim to accommodate new functions and users beyond their initial purpose, fostering a sustainable and thriving urban ecosystem.
Nature is an intrinsic counterpart to building, one that has always been there. For decades, urbanism focussed on controlling nature and pushing it outside the boundaries of settlements. Contemporary urbanism explores the benefits of letting nature run its own course in the urban environment. We contribute to this rediscovery by giving nature a central place in private and public outdoor spaces and by making it a vital protagonist within our designs.
different FIELDS OF expertise
At the heart of our profession is the assignment to create spaces – buildings, urban environment, landscapes, interiors – or to create a mindset. Across all levels, our work contributes to the shaping of continuity in the urban context.
We acknowledge and value the craftmanship of our profession in our dedication to the entire process, from the first sketch to the final technical detail. However, societal changes continuously demand that we renew our expertise and add new skills. Internally, we have defined four cells – architecture, field, detail, and radar – to efficiently respond to changing expectations from our profession.
Moreover, we have access to a wide professional network that enables us to team up with project partners who complement our in-house expertise.
Each studio serves as a hub for innovation, collaboration, and specialization, creating a distinctive network that resonates with its unique expertise. These networks, carefully nurtured and fostered within each studio, weave together a tapestry of professionals, creatives, and experts who share a common vision and passion. These specific networks constitute microcosms of creativity, nurturing talents, and incubating concepts.
They inevitably extend outward, forming a wider professional network that transcends boundaries and disciplines. This interconnected ecosystem of studios paints a larger canvas of collaboration, where insights from one domain inspire breakthroughs in another, and skills from diverse fields converge. These interconnected networks, while distinct in their focal areas, align under a common umbrella of shared values. The intersections, dialogues, and shared endeavours that thrive within each studio ripple across the broader professional network, generating a dynamic exchange of ideas, sparking innovation, and fostering lasting collaborations.
In essence, the specific network developed in each studio is a testament to the power of focused expertise, while the overarching professional network they collectively shape showcases the potential of collaboration across fields of expertise.
Appropriate intervention in space with strong structures and hybrid programmes
We strive to realize an architecture with respect of time: past, present and future. We create buildings that continue narratives from the past – a significant part of our portfolio is about reuse of built heritage, building transformation, and urban renewal in inner city areas. Our designs fit in with the requirements of the present, and we specifically look beyond the demands in design briefs to augment the quality for the community as a whole. We anticipate the needs of the future by striving to make resilient structures that can easily and be transformed and reused. We cultivate our expertise in visualisation, BIM modelling, and digital communication to streamline our design and building processes.
Investigate designs that enrich nature's resilience and fosters co-living awareness in urban and landscape environments
The work of a2o field is at the interface between the meaning of landscape and cultural-historical identity of our spaces. Starting from a thorough reading of the inherent qualities of a place, and with an interdisciplinary reflex, our designs work towards a sustainable and systemic enrichment of our living environment. We aim at restoring nature's power of resilience by fostering thriving ecosystems with nature as their main protagonist and by letting users of the spaces regain awareness of the notions of co-living with one's environment.
Make connections between the user, architecture and the environment through interior design in a sustainable way
Interior design is a discipline undergoing a renaissance. We perceive the discipline of interior design as a key complement to architecture and urban design, because it is the spatial layer that facilitates the user in appropriating spaces – not only building interiors but also public and shared outdoor spaces. In a changing society, a well-designed scenography anchors the human scale. Moreover, we implement interior design to ensure that all layers of the building perform independently, which is necessary for flexibility and circular building.
Untangle societal challenges with space as a mediator
With our design expertise, we engage in spatial problem-solving beyond the traditional scope of the architect. We do so in the phases before the actual design brief is formulated, when planning processes come to a halt. We adopt an active and activist role at such stages of planning processes. This enables us to infuse decision- and policymaking with insight in spatial opportunities and scenarios. Such projects are founded on research by design, involving stakeholders in co-creation processes. This collaborative approach allows us to advise clients by visualising concrete spatial answers to abstract challenges such as climate change. Our aim is to open windows to unseen opportunities.