New Building for the Study of Social Work

Ghent, Belgium 2012

education, culture

Open Call invited competition

HOGESCHOOL GENT HOG, Kortrijksesteenweg 14, 9000 Gent

Gent, Belgium

Site area
20.000 m2

Building area
8.840 m2

Total floor area
14.967 m2

ground floor + 2 + roof terrace

classrooms, cafeteria, exhibition/performance space

Reinforced Concrete, Steel structure

horizontal lamellas, glass

SADAR+VUGA (Jurij Sadar, Boštjan Vuga, Jure Hrovat, Peter Sovinc, Victor Barbalato III, Andreas Cesarini, Jurij Licen)
LENS°ASS (Bart Lens – arch., Georg Schmidthals – ir. arch., Thijs Prinsen – arch., Arian Schelstraete – int. arch., Veerle Ramaekers – arch. assistant, Ariadnna Varela – adm.)

The Soag building will be the first new building in the context of the masterplan for the Clean Marsen campus. Our proposal aims towards a new type of a school/ faculty building; and the faculty of social studies seems to be an appropriate program for that.

The Soag building is a free standing volume, set back off the Voskenslaan, creating an open space as a transition between residential homes along the street and the large green axis of the future masterplan development. Its monolithic massing communicates with its immediate surroundings with a permeable shading membrane, horizontal lamellas which evenly wrap the building’s englazed volume. The wrap opens up at the north-west side of the building in front of the plaza as a big entrance arch, unveiling the interior of the building on the ground floor. The big entrance arch act as inviting element which directs people form the plaza/lawn outside to the interior of the building.

Soag is developed as a new school environment, as a hybrid studyscape, where students, teachers, visitors and a general public meet, interact, study, work and play. Therefore we need to change first the circulation through the building. Our proposal avoids corridors in the building, as well as separation between vertical and horizontal circulation. Two big round atriums provide visual connection between the floors, vertical and horizontal circulation on the atriums edges provides a smooth transition between the floors.

The central stripe with the two atriums becomes a new type of school space. It is developed on four levels, from the entrance level to the inhabited roof. This is a space for meetings, gatherings, informal events, performances and spectating, as well as for study and work. It becomes a sort of interior semi-public space, a vertical hall, where activities on each floor are evenly stimulated by visual connection through the atrium space. On each level, there are entrances to classrooms on both side stripes, leading from the central stripe.

The porous monolithic volume acts visually as a recognizable mark of future campus development. Namely, the most open, socially interactive central stripe of the building stretches to all way to the glass façade and shading lamellas, creating a visual connection between the street space and the activity in the interior, whereas more standard organized classrooms of the NW and SE stripe are visually detached from the lamellas by evacuation corridors. Thus, the building has different visual depths: the entrance arch is the deepest, the street and campus side are the shallowest. The new Soag building gets a character of a public building, where activities of the school are not only presented to the campus but also to the general public and inhabitants of Ghent. This public environment would not happen only on the ground floor: the public path – the promenade stretches, through all levels, passing by an exhibition area, working desks, study chambers and a cafeteria, ending on the roof. The promenade acts as a presentation route of the life of the school.

A social, visual and spatial permeability of the building and its hybridization between school and public character are supported by the environmental/atmospheric character of the building. The displaced overlay of the two atriums, as well as their roof shading, which provided insulation in winter and spring/autumn and shading in summer stimulates a migration of people and activities in the building. Their tendency to find the most comfortable place along the promenade in a certain season as well as the time of the day provides an ever changing atmosphere in the building.