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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Offices Infrax West in Torhout, Belgium by Crepain Binst Architecture nv

 
February 4th, 2014 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Crepain Binst Architecture nv

We were commissioned to build Infrax West’s new offices after winning a competition in which Infrax’s high degree of ambition had to be expressed in a strong conceptual design that matched and enhanced its corporate identity. Our characteristic ecological and sustainable values were given expression in this project by using a metaphor for a forest in which a host of slender concrete trunks were topped with a broad green ‘crown’.

Image Courtesy © Crepain Binst Architecture nv

  • Architects: Crepain Binst Architecture nv
  • Project: Offices Infrax West
  • Location: Torhout, Belgium
  • Project coach: Jan Geerts
  • Collaborator: Evi van Schooneveld
  • Interior architect: An Steylaerts
  • Stability: VK Engineering
  • Engineering: VK Engineering
  • Infrastructure: VK Engineering
  • Acoustic advice: Avitech Acoustics
  • General contractor: Van Laere nv
  • Contest design: December 2005
  • Start design: April 2006
  • Start execution: February 2008
  • Temporary completion: May 2009
  • Final completion: May 2010
  • Site: 41 352 m2
  • Total: 10 327 m²
  • Office space m²: 6 142 m2
  • Storage space m²: 4 185 m²
  • Aantal m2 omgevingsaanleg: 26 510 m2
  • Number of parking spaces: 210

Image Courtesy © Crepain Binst Architecture nv

As a utilities service provider (electricity, natural gas, cable television and sewerage), Infrax sets an important example concerning sustainability and energy efficient building. Infrax has drawn up a program of requirements with very challenging objectives concerning energy efficiency, comfort and flexibility for their new regional office in Torhout.

Image Courtesy © Crepain Binst Architecture nv

Diverse eco-innovative techniques such as a technical front wall with integrated photovoltaic panels, a borehole energy storage field (BEO field) and core concrete activation (BKA) have been applied throughout the building.

The use of these technologies has yielded primary energy savings of 42% and a significant improvement in comfort. The calculated value of the building’s E-standard is E60 and the K value is K44. The drop in energy use will save around €30,000 each year.

Image Courtesy © Crepain Binst Architecture nv

The central pillar of the design is the creation of an innovative wall that is both literally and metaphorically green. Its construction in different ‘skins’ allows it to regulate light, air and sound for the building.

The outer skin consists of screen printed glass panels in 3 colours and three degrees of transparency. The mosaic formed by all these elements and the wall’s ingenious construction have made an unmistakable contribution to the building’s expressive and dynamic character.

Image Courtesy © Crepain Binst Architecture nv

This technical ingenuity has been combined with unbroken space in the offices: A large free height of 3.40 m and a column-free span of 16 m have made the space airy and extremely flexible. The décor was deliberately kept restrained, using white as the main colour and warm shades of grey for the flooring and acoustic screens. A few carefully chosen black accents emphasise secondary functions and vertical circulation in the building.

The closed character of the upper building is in contrast to the transparency and openness on the ground floors where the semi-public functions and lunchroom are located.

Image Courtesy © Crepain Binst Architecture nv

The large areas of glass give visitors and passers-by a look behind the screens at everyday business in and around Infrax. We also designed a new logistics centre consisting of a functional warehouse with connected outdoor storage located beside the office. This warehouse is more than a mere depot: it is an extension of the office’s architectural qualities which does not compromise sustainability and flexibility.

Image Courtesy © Crepain Binst Architecture nv

A total concept was designed for both the buildings and their outdoor surroundings in order to connect all the functions on the extensive grounds of approx. 34,000 m² to each other. The total of infrastructure and surroundings provides structure and acts as a binding element between the different zones in the grounds.

The construction of this eco-innovative office for Infrax West in Torhout was a total project whereby the design team, Crepain Binst Architecture and VK Engineering, worked out every aspect down to the smallest details.

Image Courtesy © Crepain Binst Architecture nv

The exceptional combination of an integrated technical design and consistent aesthetic details is only possible if synergy already exists between the architect and research agencies for technology, stability and infrastructure before building commences.The Infrax office is a fantastic example of a successful collaboration between architects and engineers.

Image Courtesy © Crepain Binst Architecture nv

The project receives a subsidy from the European Fund for Regional Development because of its advanced eco-innovative technologies and importance for local and regional economic development. The new Infrax office building’s low energy concept was also made possible by co-financing by the Flemish Energy Agency and the Flemish government’s Environment, Nature and Energy (LNE) department.

Image Courtesy © Crepain Binst Architecture nv

Image Courtesy © Crepain Binst Architecture nv

Image Courtesy © Crepain Binst Architecture nv

Image Courtesy © Crepain Binst Architecture nv

Image Courtesy © Crepain Binst Architecture nv

Image Courtesy © Crepain Binst Architecture nv

Image Courtesy © Crepain Binst Architecture nv

Image Courtesy © Crepain Binst Architecture nv

Image Courtesy © Crepain Binst Architecture nv

Image Courtesy © Crepain Binst Architecture nv

Image Courtesy © Crepain Binst Architecture nv

Image Courtesy © Crepain Binst Architecture nv

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