Campus Coppens Brasschaat

Redevelopment of a former military domain into a business park

In Brasschaat, businesses are typically located in residential areas. Many of them are likely to exceed their immediate environment's capacities, making it impossible for them to expand. The local authorities started looking for a high-quality solution and commissioned POLO Architects to redevelop the former Lt Coppens barracks and the surrounding military domain into a state-of-the-art business park. According to the Spatial Implementation Plan, the site is divided into three areas: an office zone, a business zone, and a green loading and unloading zone. The main building, formerly the Lt Coppens barracks, is renovated and transformed into an office building and service centre. The business park is located east of the site. A mobility hub connects these two areas.

BARRACKS BUILDING

The Lt Coppens barracks is a self-contained entity with a long history and a unique identity that needs to be preserved. Through a cautious redevelopment of the existing barracks, the building manages to maintain its typical repetitive nature.

The design for the new main building envisages a sustainable and flexible interpretation fully compliant with contemporary office standards. The facades will be cleaned and restored. On the side facing the square, expanded metal sliding shutters give the facades a dynamic character.

From the green square, the various entry points can be accessed according to the principle of an anticipated entrance. The large main entrance - essentially the restored historical entrance to the Lt Coppens barracks - is a basic and straightforward access point to the offices of the Federal Public Service of Finance. In addition to this main entrance, a number of smaller entrance buildings are scattered strategically across the inner area. Their contemporary charisma consolidates the barracks building's characteristics.

The desolate parade square is upgraded and transformed into a pleasant green inner courtyard. The square is scaled down with the implantation of a parking structure. The empty space is filled up with greenery. As a result, the building no longer faces St Jobsesteenweg exclusively, but also the new square.

BUSINESS BUILDING

This building consists of three zones: the office zone, the business zone, and the green loading and unloading zone. The offices are installed adjacent to the industrial buildings like villas in a green setting. They lean against the industrial buildings, but they ensure a smooth transition to the scale of the homes on the opposite side of the road. Walkways connecting the office buildings with each other create a horizontal unity across the various volumes.

The column structure that makes up the industrial buildings provides flexibility for future extensions or changes to the function. The loading and unloading zone is not conceived as a backside, but rather as a fully-fledged facade since it is located along the main access road.

'THE FRONT'

The mobility hub is situated at the intersection of the various circulation flows and serves as a vestibule for the entire campus. The building offers a mix of SME spaces, workshops, logistics facilities, and spaces for wholesale business. The freestanding structure is situated between the barracks building and the business park. A central road cuts through the ground floor and offers access to the various SME units. The building is coated in corten steel facades that allow the structure to blend into the surrounding greenery and to function as an eyecatcher with a strong identity at the same time. The building structure opens onto the business park in the form of an elevated plaza.

photography: Toon Grobet, Matthias Vanhoutteghem

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Location

St. Jobsesteenweg/Ruiterijschool, Brasschaat

Surface Area

17.000 m² (barracks building), 22.000 m² (business building), 10.000 m² (mobility hub)

Status

realised (mobility hub in progress)

Client

Van Roey (forAutonoom Gemeentebedrijf Brasschaat) (barracks and business building) and Groep Bolckmans (mobility hub)

Rewards

winning competition design - finalist International Awards Liveable Communities 2013, Xiamen (CH)

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