LocationZonnebeekseweg 363, 8900 Ieper, Belgium
Technical ConsultantsTim Padfield, Poul Klenz Larsen
Text description provided by the architects. Amidst a landscape of fields and farms, and near the military cemetery of Saint-Charles de Potyze, the new heritage depot is located. The depot is a depository of local heritage and art collections, where these treasures from the past are stored under the strictest conditions.
The collection consists of objects ranging from old postcards, paintings and archaeological finds, to memorabilia and militaria. Part of the collection originates from the “In Flanders Fields Museum” and bears witness to the historical war record of the very soil on which the depot is built.
At first sight, the building seems a simple volume of blind facades and sloping planes, made up of brown-red clay tiles that seamlessly immerse themselves in the rural landscape. As natural daylight in the storage space would be harmful to the objects, the walls remain mostly blank. Only the entrance, corridors and work places are provided with windows, through which one has a beautiful view of the surroundings.
All objects are kept in specifically designed storage systems, such as compactus shelving, picture racks, filing cabinets, … dispersed over a floor surface of ca. 1300 m2, divided in two levels. This space is quite modest in relation to the size of the collection it houses, but the compact and efficient storage systems, as well as the vertical stacking structure, allow for a large number of objects to be stored there.
The depot is compartmentalized in four areas: a large space with pallet racks, a storage space for fragile items such as paintings and textiles, a storage for metal objects, and a secure armory.
The heritage is guarded 24/7 under strict climatological conditions. An investment has been made in the principles of low energy storage. There are almost no climate installations, which results in a durable building with low exploitation costs. The “Denmark model” was applied in this building, meaning that storage spaces are not heated or cooled. The walls are well isolated, but not the floor, which limits fluctuations in temperature (the soil works as an accumulator). Only dehumidification of the spaces is necessary; this is achieved by air-tight walls and a dehumidifier. The necessary energy is obtained through solar panels.
Aside from the storage spaces that form the bulk of the building, there are supporting spaces, such as offices, a quarantine room, a packing room, a cold store, … This collection of spaces make the building into a professional regional heritage depot where history is preserved for future generations.