According to the director of ARhus, Yves Rosseel, the fact that the building houses so many different functions resulted in it being given the new name of AR hus. The letters A and R are the initials of Albrecht Rodenbach, a Flemish poet born in the mid-19th century in Roeselare. ‘Hus’ is the West-Flemish word for ‘house’. The ‘open house’ currently fulfils the role of meeting place and public information forum for the residents of and visitors to Roeselare.
The entire glass building has been designed by BURO II & AR CHI+I. This multidisciplinary firm with more than 120 employees has branches in Brussels, Ghent, and Roeselare itself, where architect Jo Baeke is based. He himself has been involved with the city centre regeneration project, of which AR hus forms an important part. Originally, the ‘Bank van Roeselare en West-Vlaanderen’ (Bank of Roeselare and West Flanders) stood at this location - a solid looking closed building constructed from natural stone and a lot of reflective glass. The decision was made to strip the building entirely and to only retain the concrete structure. The enclosed core with its stairwells and lifts at one end of the old bank building have been completely demolished. In the knowledge centre, the new stairs have now been constructed in the zone directly behind the glass façade. The ‘architectural route’ that is created within the building in this way gives the façade a dynamic and lively look and feel, which fits in well with the public character of the building.
Depth and liveliness
Project architects Jo Baeke and Lorenzo Kemel explain that the glass façade is made up of three different types of glass: clear, transparent glass, green tinted glass, and enamelled white glass. “The surfaces of the clear and green glass panels are all level with each other while the closed-off white glass panels are positioned about twelve centimetres further forwards”, explains Jo Baeke. This lends additional depth and liveliness to the flat curtain wall with its total surface area of around 2,700 square metres. Lorenzo Kemel continues: “The enamelled glass panels have two different widths (100 cm and 140 cm) and appear to have been arranged at random. In fact, however, there is a strict rhythm and regularity behind the apparent arbitrariness. Every other bay features a single curtain wall style, running from top to bottom.”