Bofa Architects: Designing industrial buildings with the perfect ambiance
TEXT: DEBBY GROOTEMAN | PHOTOS: JO PAUWELS
From the initial analysis to the grand master plan for the new design of an industrial building, Bofa Architects possesses a profound passion for assisting small and medium-sized businesses. Their primary focus is on bringing a project to life by creating a building that is enjoyable to work in and look at.
The overall appearance of a building should be something to be proud of and something that offers a boost for everyone involved. The face of Bofa Architects is architect Steven Winderickx. After working on different projects, including renovations and offices during the initial years, Winderickx made a deliberate choice to specialise in designing industrial buildings for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This focused approach has been in place for several years now. Winderickx explains how he always had a love and passion for industrial spaces: “In the early nineties, I had the personal experience of purchasing an old industrial building to renovate in Brussels. And alongside my affinity for these buildings, I also have a profound appreciation for the entrepreneurial aspect of business. I hold a great admiration and respect for business people and their way of managing companies.” Winderickx describes them as interesting people with a clear vision for their company. According to Winderickx, they only need an architect to bring their project to life and translate their vision into a compelling and fitting building that really makes a statement.
Custom-made industrial building with fitting look and feel
One of the projects Winderickx is extremely proud of is the remarkable transformation of an old industrial building for Morgan Belgium. Winderickx explains that Morgan is a distinguished British brand that manufactures classic cars. “They sought to relocate their dealership to a fantastic old industrial property. The construction needed extensive restoration, but to keep the look and feel of the building, we really made a dedicated effort to save some of its old elements and incorporate them in the new design.” While Winderickx immersed himself in the design for the renovation of the building in Belgium, coincidentally, the headquarters in London also underwent an upgrade. “Initially, we didn’t have any knowledge about the direction the architects in England were taking with their design. Upon completion of both projects, it was astonishing to discover we created exactly the same look and feel. However, from my perspective, the building in Belgium exudes a heightened sense of elegance. I find it truly fascinating that, independently of each other, we interpreted and embodied the story the same way.”
Winderickx has a variety of people in mind when designing a building. “A building needs to be functional and have a beautiful appearance. The aesthetics of the building shouldn’t be forgotten. There is nothing more pleasant than looking at a captivating building that exudes a ‘wow’ factor. This not only applies to the people who work in the building, but also to visitors and the public from the surrounding neighbourhood.”
Harmonizing a building with the urban landscape
Designing industrial buildings is a complex undertaking that involves careful consideration of different factors. According to Winderickx, it poses more challenges than designing simpler office spaces, for example. “Industrial complexes contain expansive surfaces, which inherently need larger budgets. From my standpoint, it’s crucial to approach these projects with an open mindset to get the most out of them. We want to use the available tools and resources to create the most impressive appearance possible within the designated budget. Additionally, it’s crucial that the look and feel of the building align harmoniously with its intended functionality.” For Winderickx, the urbanistic landscape also plays an indispensable role. A standard warehouse can be considered as a missed opportunity to optimise space. He adds: “I am really aware of the surroundings and strive to make them an integral part and essential component of the total story we want to tell.”
A topic that has become increasingly relevant in recent years is sustainability. “Technology has undergone an evolution, and we now possess advanced possibilities when designing a building. Our aim is to create a building that is completely self-sustainable, with optimised isolation, heat pumps and solar panels, among other features,” Winderickx explains. A great example is the more classic building of PowerSolutions. The building is designed to be timeless, incorporating cutting-edge installation techniques. However, this approach comes at a cost. Winderickx adds: “Yet entrepreneurs know that the years fly by. By investing now, in 10 years, they will still have a building that sustains the test of time and is viable for many more years to come.”
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