You’d be hard-pressed to find a Belgian architect bureau more versatile than PM Architecten. With offices in Ronse and Ghent, this particular company excels in sustainable urban development, master planning, feasibility studies, architecture and renovation, often combining different disciplines for special projects that require an ‘out of the box’ mindset.
TEXT: BAS VAN DUREN | PHOTOS: PM ARCHITECTEN
Having all those disciplines available in-house is what drives PM’s DNA, according to architect Bart Demeestere. He is part of the other name PM uses: ‘Architecten Demeestere + Garmyn & Partners’. “We work here with teams composed of architects, engineers and urban planners, all tailored to a project’s needs,” he explains. The Belgian particularly enjoys working with monumental buildings and giving them a whole new meaning. “It really feels like taking a building out of a glass dome and breathing new life into it,” he reveals. “We turned Ronse’s oldest factory into a durable work and living space and in accordance with the BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) label.”
Sustainability is a key component of PM’s work philosophy on all levels. Demeestere: “We love to use materials that have a low impact on our environment and personal health. It’s important that a building is able to breathe and if we’re renovating a building, we’ll always look for solutions where we can reuse materials in any way. Take, for example, a facade that we had to renovate; we had to tear down some elements that then found new life in its garden.”
But PM’s approach to sustainability goes beyond that. In the vein of his own personal architecture heroes Tadao Ando and Álvaro Siza, Demeestere and the PM team try to add more nature and colour to their creations, shunning hard shapes and adding flora whenever it is possible. “We’re pioneers when it comes to roof and park gardens,” says Demeestere. “A building can be as sustainable as it is, yet if it’s not properly placed in surroundings where you can breathe freely, it’s useless. I hope that someday we’re able to look at a city from above and not even recognise it as a city.”