Community Centre Woesten by Atelier Tom
Vanhee has a contrasting gabled extension

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Belgian studio Atelier Tom Vanhee has converted a former school building in the village of Woesten into a community centre and added a white gabled extension that appears to be sliding out of the original brick facade (+ slideshow).

Community Centre Woesten by Atelier Tom Vanhee has a contrasting gabled extension

Atelier Tom Vanhee was asked to transform the former school building into a community centre for the inhabitants of Woesten, and extended it to provide additional meeting rooms and storage space.

Community Centre Woesten by Atelier Tom Vanhee has a contrasting gabled extension

The architects retained a small recently built extension housing the toilets and built a new wooden structure around it, which has the same profile as the brick building it adjoins.

Community Centre Woesten by Atelier Tom Vanhee has a contrasting gabled extension

"The extension is a volume that is slid out of the building," architect Tom Vanhee told Dezeen. "A volume with the same typology as the existing building, as a lot of houses, and as the blind facades of other buildings in the environment."

Community Centre Woesten by Atelier Tom Vanhee has a contrasting gabled extension

Timber was chosen for the frame of the new addition because of its sustainable credentials, with vertical slatted wooden panels covering one facade continuing across the roof.

Community Centre Woesten by Atelier Tom Vanhee has a contrasting gabled extension

The gable ends of the extension are covered in white polycarbonate that accentuates the contrast between the new and old parts of the building.

Community Centre Woesten by Atelier Tom Vanhee has a contrasting gabled extension

"We chose to give the extension a different materialisation than the existing building to make it readable," said Vanhee. "The polycarbonate gives a good expression of sliding out of the building."

Community Centre Woesten by Atelier Tom Vanhee has a contrasting gabled extension

A larger staircase and entrance are incorporated into the new structure to improve the connection between the different spaces.

Community Centre Woesten by Atelier Tom Vanhee has a contrasting gabled extension

A skylight installed on the pitched roof of the brick building fills this space with natural light and internal windows allow it to reach the event space and meeting room on the ground floor.

Community Centre Woesten by Atelier Tom Vanhee has a contrasting gabled extension

Facilities in the earlier extension were updated to meet modern standards for insulation, fire safety and accessibility, and a new room in the enlarged attic now houses the building's heating and ventilation services.

Community Centre Woesten by Atelier Tom Vanhee has a contrasting gabled extension

The slatted timber panelling from the facade recurs inside the extension, where it is used to clad the staircase. Original timber beams supporting the ceiling of the brick building have also been retained.

Community Centre Woesten by Atelier Tom Vanhee has a contrasting gabled extension

The original school hall has been enlarged by removing an existing stage, while new doors connect it to the landscaped outdoor spaces.

Community Centre Woesten by Atelier Tom Vanhee has a contrasting gabled extension

Paving extends along one side of the building to a small patio that is sheltered by the projecting facade of the extension.

Community Centre Woesten by Atelier Tom Vanhee has a contrasting gabled extension

Atelier Tom Vanhee, which recently changed its name from room&room, has also created a community centre in nearby Westvleteren by updating existing brick buildings using a contrasting modern brick.

Community Centre Woesten by Atelier Tom Vanhee has a contrasting gabled extension

Photography is by Filip Dujardin.

Community Centre Woesten by Atelier Tom Vanhee has a contrasting gabled extension

Here's a project description from the architects:


Community Centre Woesten

The building is accessible by a central binding public domain, the playground of the former school (built in the 19th century). By opening some windows further down we reinforce the relationship between interior spaces and this square. By doing the same at the other site of the building, the back area is activated as a green semi-public space linked with the meeting hall. The closed functions, the storeroom, the technical areas and the sanitary facilities are grouped in a partially extended volume.

Community Centre Woesten by Atelier Tom Vanhee has a contrasting gabled extension

It is a rejuvenation of the building, where the recent sanitair extension gave rise to. This slider movement brings light in the heart of the meeting centre and gives more space at the central entrance hall. Internal windows overlook this hall and spread the light into the adjacent spaces. The other rooms have an open character, and can be used fully for the activities of the meeting centre: kitchen, meeting room, meeting hall, drawing Academy, concerts. The attic is elaborated for what is needed to use the building today. Further inside extension is still possible in the future.

Community Centre Woesten by Atelier Tom Vanhee has a contrasting gabled extension

Materials are chosen by the score at their circle of life analysis. The used wood is FSC-labelled: the structure of the extension (floors, walls and roof), the structure of the light interior walls, the windows, the façade coping and its structure, extra wooden bars for floors and for fixating, isolation. We used fibre boards for the interior walls, Celit and OSB for the extension.

Community Centre Woesten by Atelier Tom Vanhee has a contrasting gabled extension

The toilets are supplied with recycled rain water. The lights are energy efficient. The heating system recuperates the heat of the evacuating gases. The ventilation system recuperates the heat of the dirty removed air. We took care of better isolation : we changed all windows in high isolating glass, the roofs, floors and new walls are isolated. By the renovation, the building gets back a central role in the community It brings the public return the local authority was looking for.

Community Centre Woesten by Atelier Tom Vanhee has a contrasting gabled extension

Project: renovating a former school as a community centre
Client: municipality Vleteren, province West-Vlaanderen
Concept team: atelier tom vanhee met ontwerpgroep
Study of stability: S.C.E.S., Brugge
Bruto surface: 629 m²
Concept: 2009 - 2010
Execution: 2011 - 2012

Site plan of Community Centre Woesten by Atelier Tom Vanhee has a contrasting gabled extension
Site plan - click for larger image
Ground floor plan before renovation of Community Centre Woesten by Atelier Tom Vanhee has a contrasting gabled extension
Ground floor plan before renovation - click for larger image
First floor plan before renovation of Community Centre Woesten by Atelier Tom Vanhee has a contrasting gabled extension
First floor plan before renovation - click for larger image
Ground floor plan after renovation of Community Centre Woesten by Atelier Tom Vanhee has a contrasting gabled extension
Ground floor plan after renovation - click for larger image
First floor plan after renovation of Community Centre Woesten by Atelier Tom Vanhee has a contrasting gabled extension
First floor plan after renovation - click for larger image
Community Centre Woesten by Atelier Tom Vanhee has a contrasting gabled extension
3D image of the community centre
  • John L. Hubbard, aicp

    Why do some architects think that it makes sense to place wood slats of any kind as roof coverings. Very few, if any, woods will survive the weather punishment that will occur to wood slats on a roof. They won’t stay straight and they certainly are unlikely to be free of checking and splitting. And, further, what about the safety of putting a person on the roof to maintain the thing. Also, how does one get to the actual waterproof roof surface underneath the slats to maintain/repair it when necessary.

    In my opinion, it looks cool but is a very poor choice for long-term life of the building. Frankly, I’m surprised that the architect designed it that way and that the building owners accepted it that way. Someone wasn’t thinking long term I’m afraid.