Dezeen Magazine

Office Building VDAB by BOB361

Here are some pictures of an office building in Sint Niklaas, Belgium, by BOB361 architects of Brussels and Paris, which is supported over a sloping car park by black and yellow angled columns.

Called Office Building VDAB, the project was shortlisted in the office category of the World Architecture Festival this year.

It incorporates a landscaped garden that was created from the excavated ground, purified by special plants.

Staff enter the building via an internal staircase from the car park beneath the building, or through the garden.

Visitors enter from the street or through the garden. More public areas of the building are located facing the street to provide a sound buffer for offices overlooking the garden.

Photographs are by Nullens André, Kempenaers Jan and Frederik Vercruysse.

Here's some text from the architects:


VDAB office building

Symbioses of an office building and a landscape garden.

Considering the urban anchoring of the site, the angles of this building block are the regulating elements. The VDAB-project anchors itself with the existing context on the corner of the Noordlaan-Drie Koningenstraat, which is in direct relation with various public functions (post, ministry of finances), located near the main road. It is an intuitive meeting point located on a wide footpath. The second angle is the location for a possible extension and is at present, included in the project’s garden.

Concerning the implantation of the building, the volume is entirely concentrated on the street side. This offers several advantages in the field of compactness, economy and energy assessment, acoustic comfort for the offices on the garden side, large distances to the neighbouring houses and avoids fragmentation of the open green space. For the acoustic comfort on the street side, patios were added. As a result, a simple image of the emplacement between the built and green space appears.

Because of the excavating cost the lightly polluted soil, the actual volume to be removed is minimised by mooring the parking into a slope. The remaining volume of soil extracted is used to form a landscaped garden and is naturally purified by the use of fotoremediating plants. The open and slightly sloped car park, offers thus, a pleasant solution that is naturally lit and ventilated, with clear views on the garden and other open spaces. Furthermore, the principal interior distribution passage way of the building, runs from the ground level to the first floor along a slope that is parallel to the parking space; This walkway links the public spaces on the ground floor in a natural and spatial manner with semi-public spaces on the higher levels.

Circulation, access

As described above, the angle on Noordlaan and Driekoningenstraat is a natural anchor point for the site. It is thus obvious to locate the main entry and reception desk at this point. This desk is laterally backdropped, so that the street appears to be literally drawn into the building, where a bike stall for visitors is also installed.

This corner is on the other hand not appropriate for the access of cars and bicycles of the staff. This access is situated to the long end of the building. The staff parking space is situated under the building, with the bicycle stall next to the vertical circulation; the visitor’s car park is located at the beginning of the slope, and identified by grass tiles.

The visitors can enter the facility, from their parking spot, either from the street or from the garden side directly to the lobby. The staff members can reach the lobby or their offices by the means of the internal staircase or directly from the garden

Open house, privacy, transparency, recognition, charisma, communication

The project’s developed configuration has been based on the communicative and open character of the building. The fluidity between inside- outside is highlighted in the reception desk zone of the main lobby by the gradation: “outside - covered outside space – inside” and generates openness between the street, the lobby and the garden. Locating the common functions on the upper floor, above the reception, reinforces this notion of openness. By the specific organisation of the services, the transverse openings in the circulation area, and by the slope solution of the main distribution, various panoramic views are created. Along with the area where the garden is in contact with the street, all these elements form the base for the open character and the “embracing image” of the design that can be symbolized by the built branch and the green branch embracing each other.

Structural organisation

On the second floor, functions that receive a lesser public audience are concentrated. These functions include offices for the Executive Board, staff services. A general meeting room forms the head of the building. The space next to the vertical staircase, can be used as individual conversation areas, by all staff members.

On the first floor, a number of common functions are settled. Directly above the reception hall, the cafeteria that includes a small kitchen, a smoking lounge, and a meeting room. The financial and facility services offices are situated, centrally in the building.

The parallel walls of the corridors are smooth, the flooring consists of concrete tiles and the respective portals of the varied coloured offices are drawn back from the wall line.  Because of this the public functions are as if located with their front door to the circulation area: thus the small scale and a sense of intimacy are reinforced.

The lobby hall on the ground floor, regroups the three basic functions, firstly, the employer line, secondly the central administrative cell, which is linked with the counter and thirdly the employee line. From the reception one has a direct view on the garden as well as on the entrance hall. The offices in the left wing of the building are organised around a central patio.

The jobseeker line is organised on the ground and first floor around the central pedestrian sloped walkway, which offers a spatial and physical connection between all the functions of the building. The staff services and administrative support facilities have been situated along the slope.

Firstly the building has been modulated on a 1,25 m, grid, secondly, the circulation area was positioned asymmetrically. Due to this, a large range of possible properties and surface of spaces arises.

The lower level includes storage rooms for archives, some technical spaces, a fitness area next to a covered pedestrian ramp, and to the half open car park for 43 vehicles that is linked to 12 parking places in open air.


Symbiosis of an office building and a landscaped garden

Location: Noordlaan 4
9100 Sint Niklaas Belgium

Floor area surface    offices  3.838 m2 surface parking space  922 m2

Total cost 5.500.000 euro
Construction period 2001 - 2006
Procurement: competition

Client: Vlaamse Dienst voor Arbeidsbemiddeling en Beroepsopleiding
Architect BOB361 architecten bvba       goedele desmet - ivo vanhamme - jean-michel culas
Collaborators: jan opdekamp (projectarchitect) –eveline vyncke –maarten deconinck –gunther slagmeulder –nathan ooms –bram aerts – maureen heyns
Structural engineer: Bureau voor Architectuur en Stabiliteit Dirk Jaspaert
Technical engineer: Bureau Bouwtechniek
Building physics: Daidalos Peutz bouwfysisch ingenieursbureau
Landscape architect: Aldrik Heirman
Security Bureau: Bouwtechniek
Photograher: Nullens André, Kempenaers Jan, Frederik Vercruysse
Contractor CEI – Demeyer nv/sa
Chauffage Bral nv, Lot 3 HVAC – Sanitair - Riolering
Electric Engineering Comp: Lot 4 Elektriciteit