Adaptive Reuse: Town-Hall Renovation in Kontich
Architect: plusoffice architects, Brussels (BE)
Location: Gemeenteplein 1, 2550 Kontich (BE)
Visible from afar, the new council chamber is located on the expanded attic level. Its pellucid façade juts over the existing structure in such a way that the original gabled face remains visible behind it. Plusoffice have hung the expanded-metal grid far enough from the floor-to-ceiling glass façade to form a walkable interstitial space. In fine weather, this balcony can be used for meeting breaks in the open air. Although the chamber is on the third upper floor, its three sides of windows offer many views over the town. Conversely, the citizens of Kontich can always tell by the glowing chamber when council is in session.
The rooftop addition is reached via a stairway in the inner courtyard. This once-open area has been covered and now serves as a reception. A gable-shaped glass roof ensures sufficient natural lighting that also benefits the administration rooms on the upper storeys, which now face an atrium, for additional windows and corridors have been added over the course of the expansion project. Here, plusoffice have translated their guiding philosophy of a transparent municipal administration into the façade design. The remaining area gives the town hall enough space for flexible, citizen-oriented office concepts.
In this renovation, the Brussels architects have preserved the character of the building’s shell: windows and doors of afrormosia, combined with dark terrazzo flooring, complement and accentuate the original concrete-ribbed ceilings, the visible masonry work and the uncovered technical installations. The diagonal hang of the industrial expanded metal on the outer and courtyard façades is a significant design element.