SG2 Design
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I was part of the project team while working at Conix Architects, in Brussels, Belgium, to undertake a feasibility study for a large inner-city commercial and residential redevelopment.

The proposal was to retain an existing heritage building and demolish the remaining office complex on the site, which was a composite of different styles and periods. New apartments were proposed in the existing heritage building, which seemed appropriate given the nature of the building and the fact that it provided virtually the exact floor area required; the ground floor would include for commercial shops and a restaurant. Two additional levels were placed on the roof to make-up the required residential floor area, they were proposed as a modern addition and a "fluid extension" of the overall proposed new works, that were meant to work in harmony with the existing heritage-listed building.

The office space took-up the remaining perimeter of the site, which generated a U-shaped "boomerang" plan. The floor levels vary from seven storeys at one end and rise to nine storeys at the other, which was both an aesthetic and formally necessary solution in response to the lower roof height of the adjacent Theatre National.

A large courtyard space with atrium was created in the heart of the site, to allow for both visual and acoustic separation between the apartments and office spaces as well as maximising the amount of natural light flowing into the complex. This area was to become an "accueil" or ffyer space for general circulation through the site, all main entries and lift cores were located within this zone. The carpak was to be located underground on two storeys and would be accessed from the rear lane, which has less traffic mevement. The ground floor of the new office space addition would be glazed and recessed from the perimeter of the main volume, to emphasise a plynth to reduce the bulk of the nine storey mass. The ground floor was dedicated to retail shops, to attract the public into the site.

Horizontality was emphasised on the facades to accentuate the fluid, snake-like form of the new addition and also in an attempt to visually reduce the height and bulk of the new works. Horizontal "strips" of perforated metal of varying heights, perforations and coverage, were proposed to animate and articulate the otherwise regular facades, the horizontal emphasis would also contrast with the verticality of the adjacent 'Theatre National' facade. The perforated strips would provide privacy and sun-shading for the office spaces and would create an interesting effect at night when retro-illuminated, complementing the Theatre National, which is also spectacular at night.

©2014 Sebastiano Ghezzi

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