With the new state archives, contemporary architecture has been implemented in Bruges. Purpose-made Terca water-struck facing brick give the solide façade an exceptional appearance. The delicate structure on the façade lets the building look like a pile of paper above a transparent and open ground floor.

Project details

Reference object

Bruges State Archives, Belgium

Architect

Salens Architecten, Olivier Salens, Bruges

Client

Van Laere, Leasinvest

Facing brick used

Terca water-struck Special red

State Archive Bruges, Belgium © Wienerberger AG

State Archive Bruges, Belgium © Wienerberger AG

State Archive Bruges, Belgium © Wienerberger AG

State Archive Bruges, Belgium © Wienerberger AG

State Archive Bruges, Belgium © Wienerberger AG

State Archive Bruges, Belgium © Wienerberger AG

State Archive Bruges, Belgium © Wienerberger AG

State Archive Bruges, Belgium © Wienerberger AG

State Archive Bruges, Belgium

State Archive Bruges, Belgium

State Archive Bruges, Belgium © Wienerberger AG

State Archive Bruges, Belgium © Wienerberger AG

The building

The State Archives are not only housed in the new building, but also occupy space in the restored former Dominican abbey which is, besides other functions, also used as a hotel. On the abbey‘s ground floor, the beautiful drawing rooms have been reinstated and turned into multifunctional conference spaces. The first floor can be used for offices and workshops. A glass footbridge with a view of the towers of Bruges provides a link to the archives in the new part.

Stacked paper architecture

The new building is reminiscent of a stack of paper with irregular edges and an equally irregular roof shape, which seems to be inspired by a crumpled sheet of paper. The ground floor accommodates the transparent reading room that opens up onto the street, the water and the pedestrian square. At the back, new records arrive in windowless spaces where they undergo their initial treatment. The actual archive spaces are located on the first and second floor. In order to create the ideal conditions for conservation, no windows have been included with the exception of a wall opening in a protruding corner.

Façade with personality

A blind façade is an enormous challenge for an architect. Olivier Salens solved this task by giving the building a strong identity through choosing the extra long and narrow Terca water-struck facing brick with a special red finish. This contemporary facing brick series is characterised by a rough, uneven structure and a weather-beaten, rugged look and available in six different colours. The architect further exploited the qualities of the Terca water-struck Special by laying the bricks in an unevenly receding and protruding pattern. In this way, daylight constantly brings life to the strong tactile surface. Kinks in the top line of the façade provide extra dynamics resulting in a striking roof shape. At night, this is further emphasised by integrated lighting.

Roof with folded look

The roof‘s copper finish is made up of a collection of several slightly sloping roof areas. The building thus gives a more small-scale impression and conforms to Bruges’ typical carpet of red-brown sloping roofs. This kinked structure harmoniously merges the archive building with the abbey on one side and the smaller terraced houses on the other side. The special shape of the roof is repeated in miniature version in the copper logo on the front façade.

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