Architect in the spotlight: XTRA-architecten

XTRA-architecten: Growing up with bricks

A creative solution for the client’s needs within the project framework. That is the XTRA-architecten’ adage. Therefore, the designers depart from an intensive collaboration with the client in order to produce an architectural total concept. Today, the Ekeren agency applies this approach successfully in several private homes and schools.

XTRA-architecten is a relatively new name in the construction landscape, unlike XTRA-architecten’ background. The name is the new poster sign of architectural office Plan-x & partners, which is based on over twenty years of knowledge and experience. Today Wendy Peeters and Birthe De Wachter are leading the office of architects. They are supported by another architect and an architectural draftsman. Together, the team is always looking for creative solutions to satisfy the client’s needs. “During the duration of the project, we consider all project factors such as budget, the site, the desired construction program and the applicable standards. We consider every project as a challenge, regardless the scope,” say Wendy Peeters and Birthe De Wachter. The preliminary design is a crucial part of the creative process according to the two managers. “It is created from an intensive collaboration with our client. Designing is definitely a two-way process. In the preliminary design stage we thoroughly analyze the program and explore the full range of possibilities. Our constant aim is to satisfy the client’s needs, desires and expectations, transforming the input variables into an architectural total concept,” resumes Wendy Peeters.

A penchant for brick
This architectural concept features a contemporary style and a high dose of durability. The term durability has a broad interpretation according to the team of designers: it implies both the application of energy saving technology and the selection of robust materials. Brick is a constant factor in our endeavor to achieving durable materials. “Nelissen has in that respect our complete priority. They offer a broad range of supplies, competitive rates and – last but not least – a sound technical support,” says Birthe De Wachter.
The architects demonstrate the wide range of construction possibilities of brick by giving two examples. In Westerlo, XTRA-architecten designed and built new classrooms for elementary school and kindergarten Het Rietje. The whole has a playful look and a pleasant atmosphere. A red accent makes an end to the monotonous character of a classical school building and serves as a guideline for the school’s children. The entrances to the kindergarten and the elementary school are decorated by logos on red glass panes. Red accents contribute to a lively touch in the largely gray building structure. The Rodruza Gray HV WV50 proved to be a suitable solution to provide the facades with that specific shade of gray. The bricks are integrated in half-brick bond using raking mortar. The color is completely tuned up with the bricks.

Uniform look
In the Flemish village of Houthalen, XTRA-architecten provided an important solution to the problem of the double use of the parish hall, which is located in the center of the school site and was being used by the school and by external persons. The simultaneous use of the hall by different groups of people created unwanted interference. By reorganizing the available room in the parish hall and thanks to a small expansion, not only a solution was found for the interference problem but some engineering problems were also addressed. The expansion on the front side of the building contains an infant refectory as well as a separate entrance for external persons. This way, the wide use of the multi-purpose hall becomes practically more manageable. The former hall ceiling was raised and now served as refectory for the elementary school and as a gym for the external users. Acoustical walls were placed between the refectories and the gym, which transformed the former parish hall into a spacious, multi-purpose room.

During the construction works, old and new were finished using Ferro WV50 brick slips on the iso-facade system. By doing so, XTRA-architecten killed two birds with one stone: the former building could be isolated while the building as a whole adopted a uniform look.

XTRA-architecten know how to use bricks in a playful way too, which is illustrated by a recent construction of a kindergarten in Asse. The team of designers makes a combination of two different sizes of bricks in order to decorate the recent construction. Are you eager to receive more information? Then follow this chapter in the magazine “Architect in the spotlight”.