The design for this regional bank headquarters in the historical city of Ghent, Belgium addresses both the rich architectural tradition of its immediate context and our current era of global exchange. Sited within the new master plan development over the former rail yards adjacent to the Gent-Sint-Pieters railway station, this project aims to create an iconic image for both the building occupant and the city as a whole.
A massing concept was developed for a freestanding building comprised of a faceted crystal-like glass box that is elevated and supported by an elegant solid base below. The strategy for orientation and materiality is in response to the master plan and urban design guidelines calling for a more transparent and minimal expression on the plaza side of the site, and a solid and articulated presence on the street side. As such, the architecture of the building transforms from one side to the other exposing more of the glass crystal on the plaza side while on the street side the solid base is carved and articulated. The street elevation uses molding of GFRC panels and computer scripting to create an economical but solid and dynamic pattern that is inspired by the tradition of architecture and design in Ghent, yet realized through 21st century materials and techniques.
This contemporary architectural language places the building within the broader contextual dialogue of the city. Through shifts in scale and changes in elevation, the intricate pattern, so prominent in relief on the street side, is transformed to be subtle and smooth on the plaza side. An interplay of light and shadow is created by the careful manipulation of relief in the facade that brings texture and interest at street level while creating a unique landmark identity for an office headquarters. While the transparency provided by the fritted glass enclosure of the upper portion creates premium space for the bank tenant, the openness of the lobby level also brings transparency at street level. A new public space flows through the site and accommodates the program of café and exhibition space. The architecture fuses this new development site into its remarkable context, undoubtedly creating an inspired attraction within the new Gent-Sint-Pieters Development and Ghent as a whole.
Size: 20,800 m2
Location: Ghent, Belgium
Architect: Asymptote Architecture
Design: Hani Rashid, Lise Anne Couture
Project Director: Matthew Utley
DesignTeam: Paul Mecomber, Yu Nong Khew, Rob Eleazer, Danny Abalos
Rebecca Caillouet, Oliver Dibrova, John Hsu, Yu Ping Hsieh, Kadri Kerge,
Hong Min Kim, Serra Kiziltan, Makiko Nukaga, Bika Rebek, Matthew Slattery,
Client: SOFA Belgium , ING Bank
Local Architect: Eurostation NV
Structural Engineer: Eurostation NV
MEP Engineer: Eurostation NV
Facade Consultants: Front, Inc.