When designing the extension of the Bruges Academy of Fine Arts, the architects from the agency Nero decided to use a single type of cladding for both the roof and the façade. The captivating pattern of lines, planes and textures creates an abstract reference to the renowned Bruges lacework. Like a living skin, the pattern evolves and changes with the incidental light and the weather conditions.
Stedelijke Academy in Bruges, Belgium
Stedelijke Academy, Bruges
The architectural agency Nero won a competition in 2010 for the extension of the Bruges Academy of Fine Arts. The architects drew up plans for an annexe to the existing refectory in the educational institute’s inner courtyard. The second part of the assignment – a new building across the street – is now under construction.
Bruges is a city that really tests architects’ creative capabilities. The historic city centre is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and a city committee keeps an extremely close critical eye on everything that is done within the city walls. Because the expansion of the refectory was being realised near a protected chapel, the committee only gave the green light after several consultation sessions. In their final design, the architects preserved one of the two old linden trees that provided shade and green in the courtyard. The new L-shaped building seems to reach around and embrace the tree, creating a second patio where old and new come together.
In terms of the technical construction, the architects chose a steel frame structure that could be assembled on site. This avoided having to tackle the issues of setting up a building site in the limited space. On top of that, the structure was self-supporting and completely open on the inside, without any columns or stanchions disrupting the lines. The architects decided on a single type of cladding for both the roof and the outer walls. Responding to the city commissioners’ request for a natural material to be used, they chose plain tile 301. A test setup at Wienerberger’s site resulted in a combination of matt and glazed clay tiles. To achieve the desired effect of the tiled roof and wall cladding, the architects had to give the roofer very detailed drawings. So they were very pleased that Wienerberger could provide all the details of joints and connections.
A felxible approach has been adopted for the interior of the annexe. A movable wall allows the short section of the L-shaped area to be separated off as a meeting room or presentation space with screen and projector. Low-maintenance polymer concrete flooring, an interior finish made of birch plywood and exterior joinery in top-quality Douglas pine complete the range of materials. Technical installations are hidden away in a small basement. In this project, there’s no such thing as ‘just a detail’.
Todays’ buildings must meet the challenges of the future. A beautiful look is no longer sufficient, even though it might be spectacular.