‘The works that have been conducted are part of a masterplan that was developed in 2007.
Due to the growing needs of the city services, the Town Hall was looking for an extension of their site. In order to anticipate these growing needs a masterplan was developed. In this plan the historic site of a 19th century flax-factory was incorporated in the new site of the Town Hall. Redeveloping the new site, a new entrance building was designed centrally located between two existing historically valuable buildings.
The new entrance building links its adjacent buildings. None of the floors of these neighbouring buildings were corresponding. The challenge was to make all of the floors accessible for wheelchair users. Therefore the location of elevators and staircases was very carefully thought of.
Since its central location in the city, the new entrance building was designed to be a contemporary ‘landmark’ on the main road of Harelbeke. Therefore the cladding of the facade and the roof was executed in dirt repelling white material. The material is a mineral substance of the brand Corian. It is the first time in Belgium that this material is used as exterior cladding.
Furthermore, part of the historical flax-factory was renovated. The walls and roof of this part were carefully preserved and restored according to the recommendations of the institute of cultural heritage. On the inside of this historical part, the pattern of the tiled floors refers to a weaving technique, to make the link with the history of this building.
Sustainability was an important aspect in the building process. No cooling was installed in this office building. Due to the high degree of isolation, the use of window blinds and the white colour of the cladding, overheating of the building can be avoided for the Belgian mild summer climate.
In a next phase the central spot in the site will be transformed into an atrium, in order to centralise all of the city services so the current and future needs of the civilians can easily be satisfied.’