Location3001 Heverlee, Belgium
PhotographsCourtesy of ABSCIS Architecten
From the architect. The location of Heverlee Delek creates an oasis in which the traveller/commuter can relax within a contemporary environment to refuel, shop and eat before continuing their journey. Starting from the E40; a strong infrastructure vein, fast traffic is refined and reduced until finally distilled into quieter parking spaces and picnic areas. These areas visually meander and flow into the surrounding landscape and beyond. Central to the idea of the plan is a pedestrian axis. This directs traffic to specific areas, solely dedicated for the purpose of rest and relaxation. This ‘walking-axis’ offers the possibility for users to experience the surroundings and to pleasantly reach the service station in safety.
By organising specific service station facilities in a logical and considered way, clarity is expressed; further enhancing the paramount importance of pedestrian safety. All facilities are located conveniently on a service island containing parking spaces. These spaces are located on either side of the service station forecourt. The landscape study showed that this location lies in a spatially and ecologically valuable area, an area that humans have used too often for their own gains.
The design goal follows the principles of ecological project management, taking into account functional demands to:
• Enable the site to be returned to nature. The design repays nature by making new forest clusters where trees once stood
• Re-establish the continuity of the Egenhoven Forrest
• Limit the use of impermeable surfaces
• Minimise the built footprint
• Realise a compact building volume with a sustainable principle structure and a flexible substructure
The architecture serves to continue the notion of creating a subtle structure set within a rural context. At the centre of the overall landscape lies the service station. This area is intended for refuelling, loading and unloading; it also facilitates a shop, a restaurant and a hotel. The petrol station is separated by a pedestrian path which runs parallel to the traffic flow. Indeed, running transverse to this path, the building is organised in such a way as to allow the traveller to take a step back from the noise and bustle of the busy highway.
The principle building is constructed using a ‘superstructure’ consisting of a canopy and a roof. The roof is carried by columns made from white concrete. These columns are positioned in a crisscross formation. Infill modules created in glass, with a negative imprint of leafy trees, slide underneath the super structure to emphasise the transparency of the structure set against the white surroundings.