18th-century weaving mill restored to its past glory as a design showroom in belgium

18th-century weaving mill restored to its past glory as a design showroom in belgium

‘Ark38’ showroom: a converted weaving mill 

 

In the industrial town of Aalst, Belgium, a former 18th-century weaving mill and ex-Tupperware factory now houses the ‘Ark38’ showroom for bathroom furniture and kitchen specialist Sterck NV. Founders Hans and Stijn Sterck launched the restoration in 2018, joining forces with Objekt Architecten to revive the historical building without taking away its brick-clad, industrial character — resulting in a harmonic aesthetic.

 

The architectural language and interior choices reinforce the industrial and historical character of this valuable building without falling into stereotypes. An internal tension is created by the building’s ultimate function as a showroom for furniture. The modern items on display will enhance the whole and vice versa. Experience was sought in the broad sense of the word. A place where people can explore in peace,’ writes Sterck NV.

18th-century weaving mill restored to its past glory as a design showroom in belgium
all images © Ypsilon 

 

 

ENLIVENING THE industrial character with modern touches

 

‘Ark38’ is distinguished by typical brick architecture with three symmetrical bays, all restored to their full glory through an intricate cleaning process. In the original front facade, large rectangular planes in relief brickwork are now fitted with openings reinforced with a concrete frame rounded at the top. The concrete nicely contrasts with the old bricks while acting as a supporting structure. The team also placed a new exterior joinery behind the facade and large openings on the sides – adjacent to the car park – which serve as display windows bringing in ample daylight.

 

Meanwhile, Sterck (see more here) and Objekt Architecten (and here) had to determine the relationship between the building structure and indoor furniture arrangement. Therefore, designing the showroom, they decided to work with three raw materials – concrete, metal, and wood – each filling the open space and sectioning the building. Throughout the left and middle aisles, a concrete disc-ceiling now rests on three architectural supports equally functioning as backs when displaying furniture. The disc creates a more enclosed feeling in the underlying showroom; it also provides additional usable floor space on the upper level that can be accessed via two concrete staircases (pitch and spiral).

18th-century weaving mill restored to its past glory as a design showroom in belgium
‘Ark38’ showroom is a restored 18th-century weaving mill

 

 

A walkway connects that additional floor to a ‘metal’ volume right behind it, placed across the left and middle aisles at the back of the building. This volume houses offices, storage areas, toilets, technical rooms, and a kitchen in which cooking demonstrations can be organized. ‘Covering this volume with expanded metal also visually reinforces the various functions,’ notes the team.

 

Following on from this metal block, a large patio sits at the level of the right aisle, within the original boundaries of the former warehouse. On the one hand, this outdoor space provides light in the large adjacent void with flexible workplaces. On the other hand, climbing plants can grow here to create a green oasis. An additional floor was designed in the right section, where a third element – wood – prevails. This floor is separate from the front and rear façade, allowing the visitor to continue to experience spaciousness in this aisle as well. Finally, via a centrally placed staircase in the double-height space at the front, one reaches the floor that was completely finished with a wooden parquet floor in 2 levels. 

18th-century weaving mill restored to its past glory as a design showroom in belgium

18th-century weaving mill restored to its past glory as a design showroom in belgium
large rectangular planes in relief brickwork fitted with concrete frames

ark38-industrial-heritage-designboom-full-1

18th-century weaving mill restored to its past glory as a design showroom in belgium
concrete interiors contrast the historical brick surfaces

18th-century weaving mill restored to its past glory as a design showroom in belgium
combining concrete, wood, and metal

18th-century weaving mill restored to its past glory as a design showroom in belgium

 

ark38-industrial-heritage-designboom-full-2

ark38 industrial heritage 11

 

ark38 industrial heritage 8
concrete disc-ceiling creates an enclosing feeling while making room for an extra floor

ark38-industrial-heritage-designboom-full

 

 

 

1/7
18th-century weaving mill restored to its past glory as a design showroom in belgium
 
18th-century weaving mill restored to its past glory as a design showroom in belgium
 
18th-century weaving mill restored to its past glory as a design showroom in belgium
 
18th-century weaving mill restored to its past glory as a design showroom in belgium
 
18th-century weaving mill restored to its past glory as a design showroom in belgium
 
18th-century weaving mill restored to its past glory as a design showroom in belgium
 
18th-century weaving mill restored to its past glory as a design showroom in belgium
 

project info:

 

name: Ark38

location: Aalst, Belgium 
architecture: Objekt ArchitectenSterck

photography: Ypsilon 

 

 

designboom has received this project from our DIY submissions feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

 

edited by: lea zeitoun | designboom

ARCHITECTURE IN BELGIUM (121)

BRICK ARCHITECTURE (240)

RENOVATION ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN (455)

PRODUCT LIBRARY

a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

designboom will always be there for you

milan, new york, beijing, tokyo,  since 1999
X
5