Study Stability: Ingenieursbureau Norbert Provoost
Study Techniques: HP engineers
Contractor: phase 1: Himpe NV, phase 2: Detrac NV
Client: City of Izegem
Text description provided by the architects. In the industrialized port area of the small town of Izegem lies a somewhat odd monument with an art-deco front office and adjacent factory buildings. During the interbellum, for over a decade the "Eperon d'Or” factory received international attention for its luxurious shoe design and production.
After years of neglect, local authorities decide to revitalize the complex by refurbishing it to the national shoe and broom museum. This art deco pearl stands solely amidst the non-attractive industrialized heavy-duty context. This tension triggered us to treat the monument with a passive-aggressive attitude.
Both the industrial memory and context provided us with convincing arguments to not to over treat the monument with encompassing care and soft handling, too often a default approach when heritage is at stake We revalued all its formal and expressive qualities by also challenging them with new instigators: a new playful trajectory through the buildings, a small window bay theatre at the backside and a spacious rooftop extension.
A museum visit starts in the former logistic inner street that lends itself as a convenient traffic exchanger. From the inner street you take the elevator to the panoramic roof extension and then swirl downwards through sequences of restored and new spaces that host the exhibitions. You end up where you started: in the former garage.
The rooftop extension proofed to be an indispensible extra ‘white space’ liberating the museum curator from the overwhelming art deco interiors and providing a good overview on the city’s mainly industrial skyline. This shoebox like volume was put set back so not to disturb the building’s typical silhouette but rather to act as a new counter-partner challenging the past into the future. The box is cladded with a golden mesh on red lacquered steel, referring to the art deco era and textile history of the region.
The small blue theatre looks out over the adjacent factories and industrial landscape linking the museum with its own contextual heritage. Amidst the factory a new terrace offers openness, light, orientation and outdoor exhibition possibilities. The refurbishment offers the visitor both a variety of spatial experiences; a good contextual understanding and a pleasant walk through the museum collection.