Benedictus School, Gent (Belgium)

 

Benedictus School, Gent (Belgium)

It is impossible not to notice the extension to the Benedictus school in Gent. On the raised section of the motorway that leads to the city centre, even drivers in a hurry will notice these three zinc-clad spheres.

 

 

 

 

 

Architect: Danny Vandewalle, Corijn en Leyman
Technique: VMZINC® Standing seam, Surface aspect: QUARTZ-ZINC®

 

The unusual form of the building is striking and generates all sorts of comparisons. Danny Vandewalle, the architect who designed the project, would be amused by mocking or positive comments made by drivers, who have no idea of the image behind the project. He explains he wanted to create the image of a shield protecting the IT rooms from three main areas of attack: rain, dust and the noise from the traffic on the neighbouring road.

 

 

The existing buildings of this nurses’ training school were extended and remodelled to accommodate the relocation of all students on a single site. During development of the project, a large number of scale and 3D models were required, both for design of the metal structure and layout of the cladding. As on a globe, the zinc skin can be broken down into parallels and meridians. The inclination of the parallels leads water to the bottom of the facade. The meridians are made up of identical elements, sized according to the width of the zinc coils and re-cut according to a slightly trapezoidal pattern.

 

“People often ask me why I used QUARTZ-ZINC® rather than a wall coating”, says Danny Vandewalle. “In an urban context next to a major road, a coating would have turned black in three years.”

The architect also explained the reason behind the rather eccentric spheres: “I object to the uniformity of computer-aided design in architecture. The first software programmes made it possible to draw straight lines and architecture became cubic. Today, software
has become more sophisticated, and I want to demonstrate that box architecture is not the only option”, says the architect, who also intends to avert too much architectural conservatism, which is an issue in historic cities such as Gent. This project is more than just a shield, it is a manifesto for a different type of architecture!