INTRO

Compagnie-O architects is a design platform for architecture in its broadest sense. It arose from an initial collaboration between Francis Catteeuw and Joke Vermeulen.
We call our work conceptual and want to build it at the same time. This makes us both generalists and specialists.

NEWS

The office/atelier is at the Korenmarkt in the hart of Ghent, yet hard to find. Focus on the medival greystone House/Café Borluut, take the entrance at the left of the terrasses, walk on and take the elevator +1.

You'll find our 'exiting' Compagnies community-chitchat on facebook.
Have a look, have a like,

The Topsportschool/Antwerp is published in PLAN04

COLLABORATORS

Joke Vermeulen
Architect
joke@compagnie-o.be
Curriculum Joke Vermeulen

Francis Catteeuw
Architect
francis@compagnie-o.be
Curriculum Francis Catteeuw

Soetkin Goddaert
Ir. Architect
soetkin@compagnie-o.be

Stefan Hooijmans
Ir. Architect
stefan@compagnie-o.be

Ruben Rottiers
Ir. Architect
ruben@compagnie-o.be

Pieter Van den Poel
Ir. Architect
pieter@compagnie-o.be

Sien Cornillie
Architect
sien@compagnie-o.be

Elias Verdegem
Ir. Architect
elias@compagnie-o.be

Pieterjan De Bock
Ir. Architect
pieterjan@compagnie-o.be

Olga Salata
Architect
olga@compagnie-o.be

Nori
Allrounder
nori@compagnie-o.be

Post Nuclear Necropolis - Antwerp

Date: 2014 - 2016
Theme: Landscape-study for Problematic Scenery
Program: Landscape-park with a necropolis in cooling towers
Adress: Doel + Verdronken Land van Saeftinghe

STUDY IN PROGRESS BUILT

In the North of Antwerp lays “Doel Nuclear Power Station”.
Aprés-Fukishima-plans have been made to close it down within the next 20 years. In our proposal, we close it right now and furthermore breach the dykes. The polders are pushed inland, leaving wetlands and harbor to create a new cohabitation. These new wetlands can be seen as an ecological sponge that will protect Antwerp from floods.
The vast scale of wetlands, harbor and "left-over" cooling towers create a feeling of “the lonely landscape”. The great architectural appeal of these towers is their scale (176m tall) mixed with the elegance of the grain of this tectonic construction.
We re-use these two artefact-towers as a support for stacking 126 years of deceased beloved ones – 413.340 urns per tower.
The lonely landscape houses thus a Post Nuclear Necropolis.

Topsportschool - Antwerp

Date: 2011 - 2016
Client: AG VESPA
Program: 5400 m² School + Paradeplein
Adress: Edegemsesteenweg 100 Wilrijk Antwerp
Photo: Bart Gosselin + Tim Van De Velde

STUDY IN PROGRESS BUILT

The Topsportschool is a 'machine à exceller': it operates seamless, swift and quick. The inhabitant, the slightly narcissistic and voyeuristic athlete, is obsessed with its body, performance and rancking. Architecture translates this into reflective surfaces, look-throughs, vista’s...
The building takes off at the Parade Square, which is redesigned as a local Circus Maximus, of the the 6th Brialmont-fort of Antwerp. The concrete base gives the building a spatial autonomy. The “school-disk” is mounted on top of that base, functioning as a kaleidoscopic glasshouse for education.

Knokke Safety Pavillion

Date: 2015
Cliënt: City of Knokke
Adress: Lichttorenplein Knokke
Team: Compagnie-O Architects with John Körmeling

STUDY IN PROGRESS BUILT

This Safety Pavillion is about to be build at Knokke-beach. It facilitates a Central Command Post for the lifeguards, a first aid, public sanitary and a police post.

National Museum for Shoes and Brooms, Izegem

Date: 2006 - 2017
Client: City of Izegem
Adress: Izegem, Prins Albertlaan 5
Program: 2443 m² from which 515m2 as new construction
Team:Compagnie-O architects icw Geert Pauwels & Sabine Okkerse

STUDY IN PROGRESS BUILT

In the industrial zone near the port of Izegem lays a strange monument, an art-déco front-office and behind factory-buildings of the former shoe factory "Epéron d'Or. This “Open Oproep” project turned it (slowly) into a National Shoe and Broom Museum”.

NAC - New Administrative Center, Brasschaat

Date: 2014
Client: City of Brasschaat
Program: 3800m²
Team: Compagnie-O. architects icw Technum
Adress: Verhoevenlei

STUDY IN PROGRESS BUILT

This project aims to facilitate human interaction rather than project formalistic concepts.

Fire Station, Puurs

Date: 2006 - 2011
Client: City of Puurs
Program: 2500 m²
Team: Compagnie-O. architects

STUDY IN PROGRESS BUILT

The design of the fire station in Puurs starts from a pure functionality of the building on the one hand, a machine à travailler, and from a unique setting on the other.

The requirement of a large central hall (the remise), on both sides lined with turn-out zones, a relatively high hose drying tower, the extensibility of the fire station with sleeping areas, combined with a complex internal organization, led the design in a certain direction: a building with a footprint of 72 by 35 meters with a distinct architectural personality. The hose drying tower, combined with a practicing tower, acts as a vertical entity and vertically and serves as a billboard for the fire department and the city of Puurs. On both sides the fire station is given meter wide porches so that the building is literally framed in the landscape.

Women's Prison, Holmsheidi (Reykjavik)

Date: 2012
Client: Rikiskaup (The State Trading Centre)
Program: 3700 m²
Team: Compagnie-O. architects

STUDY IN PROGRESS BUILT

The imprisonment of people is perhaps the best kept taboo within our modern society. Depriving the criminal individual of freedom is understandable and broadly recognized/accepted, an effect of society’s mechanism to protect ourselves. But when the question of adjustment and reintegration arises, effect turns into affect. Ideologies and politics take over and instigate a never-ending flux of visions, reflecting society’s incapability to establish a coherent concept on how a prisoner could re-turn to The Society.

Architecture has an ambiguous role in this play. By fencing-in, detaining and controlling a minority, it generates freedom for the majority. But can it at the same time also facilitate freedom within the confinement? Thus introducing a possibility of reintegration of the criminal individual into society’s freedom?

We do punish people with architecture.
The building is the method, detainment and punishment is the goal.
This proposal is highly aware of this ‘raison d’être’ of the prison, but at the same time criticizes and rejects the unilateral functional approach.

A prison is per definition a highly functional piece of architecture, an economic machinery producing safety, for all.
The proposal postulates this as a conditio sine qua non. All the cells are situated on the first floor, leaving ground floor for communal activities, staff and visitors. The rooftop is conceived as a communal outdoor space in extension to the individualized patio per division.

In the Holmheidi proposal, the idea of the fortress and control through the static panopoticon is radically challenged.
The image of the monumental solid walled fortress with a few barred openings shifts to an open mesh. Still round, defining in and out, the former solid walls are unraveled to a mesh of tilted holes, like a woven tissue around a naked (vulnerable) body.
This shift alters society’s view of the prison as an anonymous building. Outside has to deal with inside, still behind a screen, but recognizable and present.

On the inside, the prisoners gaze is being liberated form the centripetal force of the panoptical eye in the center. The field of view is free and randomized in all directions: perspective, wide-angled, overall-views and reflections, both to the inside and to the surrounding landscape.

The circular ground plan and the fully glazed inner court provide the guards with a 360 vision on all levels.
This ‘mesh of gaze’ coincides with the ‘openness of mind’ throughout the prison.

Elementary School 'Dender', Geraardsbergen

Date: 2003 - 2009
Client: Ministry of Education
Program: 1200 m²
Team: Compagnie-O. architects

STUDY IN PROGRESS BUILT

The existing primary school of Geraardsbergen nests itself in an absurd inner area in the center of this historical Flemish town. The question for a considerable extension/addition of the existing school with 8 classes and a polyvalent space came to our attention. We decided in our sketch-proposal to separate the polyvalent space and classes from each other in order to protect the scarce rest space of the building site.

The volume carrying the classes has been designed as a vertical thin disk (6 meters by 36 meters and app. 10 meters high), which is smacked against the existing building. The old broad hallways and staircases on the different levels are reused for the access to the new wing. By recycling square meters on this side, we were able to offer the school larger classes. By connecting to the existing wing, we were obliged to take over the height of the older classes, which is now a days quiet luxurious.
The polyvalent space, mostly used as sport hall, has, in contrast to the class-wing- a strong horizontal character and is therefore (as compact as possible) built in the inner-area against the existing school. The façades of the bold volume accompany the children, parents and teachers as they enter their school. A large steel canopy crowns the hall and marks the renewed entrance area with the school reception at the end.
The polyvalent space also functions independently from the school by the addition of an extra entrance, facing the street. This is an important aspect for the school, aiming to be a "broad school" in the near future.

The polyvalent space as a cobblestone, the new classes as a casco-structure against the existing school.

BXXL - a new logistics center for Brussels Port

Date: 2013
Client: Brussels Harbor
Program: 71.600m² -
Team: Compagnie-O. architects icw Antea and Proap
Capacity: 75.000 euro pallets – 30 truck docks

STUDY IN PROGRESS BUILT

The process started with a brief to design a new logistics center for the harbor of Brussels. This particular region of Brussels has had for several years a hectic and fairly inconsistent planning and development strategy.

Previous attempts to design the logistic center ignored public spaces and focused on infrastructure for capital gain. Heavy protests by the surrounding neighborhood inevitably stalled the project due to conflicting ideas.

Our approach starts with the development of the site by creating a new dialogue between the harbor, surrounding neighborhood and city. In our opinion it is possible to satisfy all parties – The key to achieve this lays in the concentration and combination of all needed functions, while maintaining a minimal footprint on the site.

The result is a concentrated multi-modal automated storage facility which forms the “attic of Brussels “.

By compacting the harbor activities on a small footprint; it liberates a much needed decompression zone for the neighborhood. the park connects with the existing open space and allows for a direct connection to the canal. The logistics center functions as a landmark for the neighborhood, for the city, for the ongoing development of the cityscape.

The existing elevated road wraps around the 80×80 meter cube and provides a panoramic view of the park with public activities and sports fields. It is also a connection that may host food markets, concerts, street theater and so on.

Inside the black box are 3 levels each with a specific method of handling and storing cargo. Each level is connected through vertical shafts, thus eliminating the need to cover long horizontal distances. This is a more efficient configuration that provides faster circulation and uses less energy.

On top of the logistics center is the 'attic of Brussels' with its first open air pool for the city. This connects the public with an unknown urban space and could help revitalize the identity of the area.

By tearing down some of the ad hoc expansions and keeping interesting parts of existing buildings we accentuate the current qualities of the area. Two prominent buildings: the old train station and warehouse from the 1958 world expo era are reused for new functions.

The old train station becomes the new entrance of the rooftop pool connected by an escalator. by adding a pool on top of the logistics center; we ensure the adaptation of the new logistics center by the people of the neighborhood and give the city their long over due open air pool.

Party Hall, Kortrijk

Date: 2014
Client: City of Kortrijk
Program: 1760 m²
Team: Compagnie-O. architects icw VK engineers

STUDY IN PROGRESS BUILT

A party hall is all about fun and freedom. It is a social landscape filled with intimate moments and exciting energy. Therefore, a party is treated as an event, an intense experience of stimulating music, rhythmic lighting, misty smoke and dark boundaries. Mixed with the ecstasy of self release, a party vibrates with the energy of the people.

For the youth, parties are a form of self expression, an imitation of who they are and what they represent. It is this search and development of our youth that justifies the communal aspect of a party hall. It represents a meeting point within the city – a shell separating outside from inside where you are sheltered to be with your community. As you enter, you acknowledge your presence in relation to place which can be comforting as a transition from outside to inside. And as you are inside, you are allowed to explore, move, consume, and socialize in your own space in your own terms.

The objective of this project is to create a venue for expression, ecstasy and excitement. But on the other hand a responsible building which regulates itself with minimal intervention; visible and present. Architecture itself is not the experience, it is the catalyst for the experience – it mediates between discharge and expression, control and authority - a complex balance to achieve.

House Machelen

Date: 2013-2016
Client: private
Program: 310 m²
Team: Compagnie-O bvba

STUDY IN PROGRESS BUILT

House Van Colen

Date: 2008
Client: Mr. and Mrs. Van Colen - Vanryckegem
Program: 370 m²
Team: Francis Catteeuw icw Geert Pauwels

STUDY IN PROGRESS BUILT

This is a house for mister Van Colen, a busy vet and homebuilder at the same time. It is located in Wingene, a typical West-Flemish country town. The building plot adjoins a spit of valuable agricultural land. The street forms the winter bed of this natural landscape and is therefore situated higher than the actual plot.
It is a typical Flemish reflex to elevate ones private parcel. The landscape towards the street is, in that way, reshaped into a chain of little artificial hills, each carrying a private dwelling. Every man for himself, God for us all.
The "Van Colen" house, however, deviates from this over-all principle because it is inserted onto the natural ground level, lower than the street. This attitude disassociates the house immediately from its neighbors and thus, the average way of building/ architectural stereotype in the Flemish countryside.

The preservation of the existing topography is a first and clear design-guideline. It leads directly to a different planning of the program of this dwelling: the living-area is situated on the first floor, the bedrooms are located on the ground floor with immediate access to the garden and fields. If you look at it from the street, most of the living takes place at a "bel-étage". A (not yet constructed) bridge/walkway connects the street and living area. Thanks to the principle of the "bel étage", the kitchen and living room have a panoramic view on the surrounding meadows.
The second design-guideline introduces the well-known Flemish stable typology: an industrial ready-made steel structure built in no time.
Under this stack, the homebuilder has organized his own housing, building the rooms brick by brick.
This way of working stretches the building-period for sure. However, we prefer the commitment of this homebuilder, which is intriguing to watch, rather than a "normal" building-process, regardless of the pure aesthetic consequences. The house is by definition never finished.

This is not nice-nice design.

Dit is een woning voor een veearts-zelfbouwer. De site is gelegen in het buitengebied van Wingene, een typisch (West) Vlaamse plattelandsgemeente. De site grenst aan een waardevol agrarisch gebied.
Aangezien de straat de winterbedding van een beekje vormt, bestaat de typische vlaamse reflex erin om de bouwgrond ter grootte van het eigen perceel op te hogen. Hierdoor ontstaan aan de straatzijde allemaal "hopen" met een huis op. Ieder voor zich, God voor ons allen. Dit hebben we niet gedaan waardoor de woning vanaf de eerste ontwerpzet afwijkt van zijn buren en meer algemeen van het gemiddeld bouwen in een typisch Vlaamse buitengebied.

We behouden met andere woorden de bestaande topografie. Dit heeft geleid tot een andersoortige indeling van de woonst: het leven gebeurt op +1, het slapen op het gelijkvloers. Ten opzichte van de straat echter, die met haar pas zo tussen het gelijkvloers en het eerste niveau zweeft, leeft men in een bel etage. Een nog ontbrekende "loopbrug" maakt de verbinding tussen straat- en leefniveau. Door dit bel etage principe, krijgt de leefruimte een erg breed zicht op de omgevende akkers en weiden.

De tweede ontwerpzet introduceert de welgekende staltypologie: een industriele "ready-made" stalen structuur werd in een mum van tijd op de bouwgrond opgetrokken. In plaats van een invulling met bardage-platen, zoals bij alle boerderijen in omstreken het geval is, werd onder deze herkenbare typologie een woning geschoven. De opdrachtgever heeft deze volgens plan en aanwijzingen van de ontwerpers voor een groot deel zelf gebouwd. Dat rekte het bouwproces enigszins maar het engagement van deze zelfbouwende familie was dan ook veel intenser en intrigerender dan bij een normaal bouwproces.

Dit is geen "design". Dit is authentieke nestvorming.

Loods 22, Ghent

Date: 2005 - 2010
Client: Locus Developments
Program: 12000 m²
Team: Compagnie-O. architects icw Stefaan Platteau, Lies Trybou, Kim Pecheur, Renée Steyaert

STUDY IN PROGRESS BUILT

Dit project omvat de restauratie en reconversie van de als monument beschermde loods 22 aan de Voorhaven in de Gentse Muide-Meulestede wijk. Deze loods vormt samen met loodsen 20 en 23 de enige overgebleven constructies op de kades van de Voorhaven. Ze werden op het eind van de 19de eeuw opgetrokken als op-en overslagloods van katoen die massaal aangevoerd werd om de op volle toeren draaiende Gentse textielindustie te voeden. Halfweg de 20ste eeuw verloren ze hun functie ten voordele van de noordwaartse uitbreiding van de haven, met zware aftakeling en zelfs gedeeltelijke afbraak (van loodsen 21 en 24) tot gevolg.
Dankzij nieuwe visies over de reconversie van industriële sites en de gestructureerde en voortdurende inzet van het private initiatief ontstond er eind jaren 80 een fundamentele kentering aan de Voorhaven. Verschillende pakhuizen werden ondertussen herbestemd en brachten nieuwe impulsen in de wijk. Met de reconversie van de loods 22 en de aanpalende Loods 23 worden de meest prominente artefacten van het industrieel verleden volledig geherwaardeerd.

De loods meet 100 bij 40 meter en dit over 3 bouwlagen. De halfondergrondse baksteen kelder draagt een uiterst lichte, hyperstatische stalen bovenbouw. Het dakvlak wordt gevormd door een dubbele rij Polonceau spanten die telkens 20m overspannen. Een rondom rond 5m uitkragende luifel (om het katoen tijdens laden en lossen tegen regen te beschermen) draagt bij tot het zeer specifieke silhouet van de loods.
De gelijkvloerse verdieping is bestemd voor handel en diensten die vanaf de half-bovengrondse sokkel rondom toegankelijk zijn. De ruimtes kijken uit over de kades, de voorhaven en de wijk. De verdieping biedt ruimte aan 20 woonlofts, ontsloten vanuit 2 inkompartijen.
Elke ingreep moet zich meten met enerzijds de dominante logica van de structuur: een strak kolommen-en balkengrid en anderzijds de schaal van de loods en de site: industrieel en groots.
De ontwerpzetten zijn dan ook telkens ‘afgewogen’ en delicaat zoekend naar één juiste ingreep met een maximum aan rendement; financieel én architecturaal.

Het voorontwerp van de aanpalende 'zusterloods' 23 is ondertussen aangevat.

Housing Verbeemen

Date: 2015
Client: Santerra
Program: Residential Housing

STUDY IN PROGRESS BUILT

More info soon to be included