The highly parcelled industrial zone, in which this project is situated, is an area in transition. Under the pressure
of urban development, this area is merging with the city and is slowly becoming a city district. a2o joins this process of transformation and recuperation, and wants to work at the limits of what is possible. We call this district the ‘Quartier Canal’. The merge with the city is not achieved by creating a tabula rasa. The hybrid character of the city district is checked and developed. The mixture of functions is clear by the combination of industrial buildings, offices, laboratories, educational establishments and cultural developments, such as the arts centre, a former mill, which now houses a2o.
We have turned De Silo into a sustainable development experiment. We used the existing building as an exercise in recuperation architecture and the new parts as an exercise in prefabricated timber frame architecture.
De Silo has a spatial impact on the surrounding site. The building runs parallel to the Albert Canal. Apertures were made in the twelve existing grain silos and new floors were installed, which now determine the spatial dimensions of the architectural firm’s offices. The incisions in the concrete – scars testifying to the brutal intervention – remained untouched.
The centre of the site will be a raised square. A south-facing enclosed outdoor space. This may be used as a semi-public space for a variety of events. In this scheme, the first level of De Silo merges seamlessly with the central public forum.
The project also caters for studios and laboratory rooms, office spaces and an exhibition room. Each in their own way, all parties involved will be working at the interface of art and architecture. One experiment leads to another. Connections between different domains and disciplines are made in De Silo.
Just like the district – at a larger scale – creates new links with the city, a2o’s mission is shaped at the smallest scale.
2004-2008 (phase 1), 2017-2018 (phase 2)
Kristof Vrancken & Niels Donckers