What Binst Architects did to convert a historical Antwerp warehouse into its own headquarters
A discotheque. Restaurant. Car park. Storage space. These are the varied roles a warehouse building in the south of Antwerp played before being turned into a state-of-the-art office space, courtesy of local firm Binst Architects. And not just any state-of-the-art office space, either – but the practice’s very own headquarters. Located in the Belgian city’s former 19th-century harbor district, the site was converted from its original historical typology to a contemporary office setting.
The Binst team cleverly refers to the headquarters as their ‘architectural business card’. For the façade, they chose to restore the original brick appearance, juxtaposing the structure with calculated steel additions – like a first-floor terrace – to hint at the modern attitude conveyed by the interiors. The material is continued inwards with new cross-steel columns installed on top of a skylight, enabling sun rays to seep in through to a once-cramped-basement, now multifunctional event space. In fact, an impressive 490 m2 of the 660-m2 office space is multifunctional.
Four individual atmospheres were designed for the headquarters. In the sleek underground space, white and black terrazzo and brass and stainless steel create high contrast. The communal ground floor, defined by voluminous arched windows, is home to the meeting area. The third floor is decked in oak-block flooring and cast iron beams and columns. And, perhaps the most characteristic of them all is the roof workspace, with 8-m-high domed ceilings and original Polenceau trusses.
Uniting the floors is a sculptural custom staircase, forged from steel welded and lacquered onsite. Complementary bespoke elements include the balustrades, a traditionally crafted wooden conference table, brass kitchen wall and a catering terrace built from black-stained wood.