The site was formerly occupied by a car park and is set within a cluster of public buildings, including the justice department, federal government finance departments, Brieljant youth centre and the town museum and art gallery. The new building provides 8,000 sq m of accommodation and comprises office space for 100 staff, a large archive and staff canteen in addition to a 250 sq m council chamber, public meeting rooms and new quarters for the mayor and town alderman. The design sets the administrative accommodation in a 5-storey building, which runs parallel to Deinze’s principal market street. The council chamber is a free-standing double height room which projects out of the building toward the market street and cathedral. Raised on monumental legs to first floor level, the chamber creates a sheltered public space and entrance beneath. A new south- facing public garden overlooking the river is created in the embrace of the two building forms. This garden has been incorporated into Marie-Jose van Hee’s landscaping for the whole area. The windows of the building are set behind stone clad columns to form a loggia, which provides shaded external space for staff. As well as creating a pleasant microclimate the loggias will be used to display planting and public sculpture for the mutual enjoyment of staff and the public at large. The columns are clad in an Italian natural cementitious stone known as Ceppo Di Gres. Windows are anodised natural aluminium. The council chamber has floor to ceiling windows with frameless balustrades to the loggias, putting the activity of the council chamber on display to the people of Deinze. Inside, large public foyers are incorporated on each floor, which act as informal meeting spaces between members of the public and administrative staff and officials. The project represents Tony Fretton Architects’ second built project in Belgium, following completion of a residential tower at Westkaai in the docks of Antwerp in 2016.
Project facts and credits Address: Brielstraat, Deinze, Belgium Architect: Tony Fretton Architects Client: Stad Deinze Value: €12,500,000 Site area: 1300 sqm Gross internal area: 8000 sqm Design team: Tony Fretton, Jim McKinney, David Owen, Chris Snow, Io Schønherr, Piram Banpabutr, Martin Nassen, Nina Lundvall, Guy Derwent, Tom Appels Project architect: Chris Snow, Tom Appels, David Owen