Schmidt Hammer Lassen has released images and details of its competition-winning design for the headquarters of Solvay, an advanced materials and chemicals company, to be located in Brussels, Belgium. Working in collaboration with Modulo Architects and VK Engineers, the Danish firm has prioritized sustainability and resilience in the zero-carbon, near-zero-energy building.
The scheme is located on a 22-hectare site in the Belgian capital which has hosted many of Solvay’s activities since 1953. The design team sought to reach beyond the typology of a typical corporate office, instead offering a fluid, collaborative space dedicated to interaction and innovation.
In the earliest stages, it became clear that one compact building with one common entrance into a sweeping atrium would allow everyone who passes through the headquarters to share the same unique experience of the building and create a strong sense of belonging. We translated Solvay's desire for a welcoming, innovative, sustainable headquarters into an architecturally bold statement that reflects its core values and creates a new identity.
-Tiago Pereira, Partner, Schmidt Hammer Lassen
The Solvay Headquarters sets ambitious environmental targets, aiming to be a zero-carbon footprint, near-zero-energy building. The scheme is set within a ”green campus” with visitors welcomed by a formal “urban carpet” of benches, trees, and reflective pools. Above, a large green roof offers unobstructed views across the landscape, while skylights and sunken gardens maximize the connection between interior and exterior.
An existing park to the west will be forested, with the reinstatement of an 18th-century stream linked to the Senne. Across the campus, rainwater will be harvested and reused, with the stream amplifying natural rainwater ponds to enhance biodiversity. To the north, an open-air amphitheater is shaped with consideration for existing trees and to take advantage of the naturally-sloping landscape.
These outdoor spaces guide visitors to a glazed, naturally-lit, inviting entrance lobby of the main building, flanked by a café and Experience Centre. Lined with informal workspaces such a large social staircase, the atrium also serves as a visual connection to the formal workspaces above.
The first two floors of the building contain laboratories and workshops, with four upper floors dedicated to offices. These two blocks are linked by the Meeting Centre, offering space for employees to relax, and providing a connection to panoramic terraces.
Expected to be certified as BREEAM Excellent, the scheme integrates a broad range of environmentally-conscious features including geothermal energy, solar cells, and natural ventilation, while Solvay has committed to minimizing the impact of its manufacturing and industrial waste processes on surrounding air, water, and soil.
News of the scheme follows on from another environmentally-conscious corporate campus designed by Schmidt Hammer Lassen, with plans for the new campus of Norway’s largest geotechnical specialist community announced earlier this year.
News via: Schmidt Hammer Lassen
Architect in ChargeSchmidt Hammer Lassen Architects
Local ArchitectModulo Architects
Lead EngineerVK Engineers
Landscape ArchitectOntwerpbureau Pauwels
Explosion PreventionAbesco CVBA
PhotographsCourtesy of Schmidt Hammer Lassen