New headquarters for Kreon in Opglabbeek by CONIX RDBM Architects

Louis de Vion school group in Montévrain, Vincent Parreira Atelier Architecture
September 25, 2017
Architect Louis Paillard just delivered the Skylight Tower in La Défense, Paris
October 9, 2017

CONIX RDBM Architects collaborated with Kreon to create the new headquarters for Kreon in Opglabbeek. For the concept and development, CONIX RDBM Architects put their heads together with Kristof Pycke, the art director at Kreon. The result is a surprising cross-pollination of lighting and architecture. The philosophy followed by Kreon over the past 15 years is integrated into every detail of the building: creativity and technical innovation are essential elements in the company’s culture. They are reflected in the design of the new building.

The environment

The Kreon office is on the street side of Industrieweg-Noord. The already existing warehouse was on the grounds behind it. Needing more warehouse space and an office building that represented the company, Kreon decided to construct a new office including space for their logistical requirements.

The new building provides rooms for various functions: a landscape office, showroom and logistics. As various functions are being incorporated into a single building, the surface area being built upon is much more compact, allowing a direct link between the design and the final product.

The building was constructed with the longest side against the existing warehouse, allowing a direct (dry) link between the old and new warehouses. The showroom is on the ground floor, on the street side. A large rooftop garden will be developed on the roof of the new logistics section between the upper-story offices and the existing warehouse.

Besides the practical aspects, the construction of the new building allows room for greenery. Knowing the site is in an industrial area, Kreon wanted to construct a building that represented them, in a green environment, to establish a more pleasant workplace.

At the front of the building, due to natural drainage of the surface water and the abundance of local flora and fauna, a pond with a natural overflow in the shape of a wadi has been created. Additional grasses and trees have been planted for a beautiful, natural view for the showroom on the ground floor to look onto.

The building

The entry is on the short side of the building, close to and visible from the street. Parking spaces are provided for both visitors and staff. The parking spaces for employees are kept out of view by a wall that accentuates the entry while also defining the limitations of the Kreon private grounds. The loading zone for trucks is located behind this wall.

There is more space available in the new 4,800m² building, allowing all internal operations to be brought together under one roof. As a result, the interaction and communication between the different departments and clients runs more smoothly than was possible in the past. There is a showroom downstairs and one upstairs. In the centre of the building, accessible via a broad staircase, there is a mezzanine granting a view of all the different office spaces. Both outside and inside, openness, light and enticing views invite visitors to explore Kreon and truly appreciate how the new building takes every opportunity to demonstrate the full range offered by Kreon and Belux, in functional and architecturally perfect circumstances.

Kreon produces architectural interior lighting, metal ceiling systems and acoustic installations. Their products are to be found in homes, hotels, restaurants and shops, showrooms and offices, and now also in their new headquarters. Light abounds in every sense of the word:

•    light ecological footprint, thanks to solar panels, geothermic heating and spaces for greenery;
•    optimal use of natural light throughout the entire building;
•    balanced lighting from Kreon products;
•    a lightweight sensation thanks to the open, transparent landscape office with a focus on ergonomics, social interaction and a friendly, happy workplace.

Concept

The entire building breathes the Kreon company philosophy: simplicity and purity. The design aims for a classic appearance with sober, timeless architecture. As a result, the abundant light streams unhindered throughout the open structure.

As a lighting manufacturer, the company draws its inspiration from the architecture and interior design of the ’20s and ’30s. The influence of the Bauhaus architecture is recognisable in the symmetry, the repeating elements and the tight geometric shapes of the Kreon products. Right angles and lines are the basic shapes of modern architecture. Kreon uses them in their lighting products and in the architectural design of their new office building. The cleverly simplistic design gives the space a universal and timeless character. And in the building, they are in evenly balanced dialogue.

The lighting fittings do not stand out anywhere in the new building. Logical, because they were designed from an architectural perspective, not on the basis of their light radius. They therefore blend seamlessly into the total concept. The same holds true for other Kreon products such as climate ceilings and signalisation.

Lightness of the building

The Kreon products, as well as sunlight, contribute to the marriage between light and shape. Light streams freely through the glass façade, bathing the building’s interior.

A light burden on the environment

The new international headquarters in Opglabbeek gathers all departments under one roof – about 50 employees. Thanks to geothermal and floor heating, they use as little non-renewable energy as possible. The old section of the building has been retained and attached to the new building. It’s home to the delivery and stock departments where orders are prepared, packed and assembled with an order-picking system. Solar panels cover virtually the entire roof of this old building. The first floor of the new building is located on a 1,500m² roof terrace with wooden floors, greenery and long grass, inspired by the ‘High Line’ in New York.

Symphony of light, shape and colour

The generously lit spaces offers a sense of clarity and freedom – strengthened by the modest colour palette. White and black act as the overtones both inside and out. They respectfully interact with each other on the walls and floors, while the black ceiling expresses an engaging monologue.
The materials used have a noble simplicity: wood, brick, glass and metal. The primary building blocks of architecture – such as the brick walls – are presented unabashedly to visitors.

Symmetry and repetition create a feeling of peace and regularity throughout the headquarters. Even the inbuilt cupboards, furniture and lighting elements comply with the uniform cadence of the building.

Ground floor

The large access door opens into the reception area. The floor is an interplay of black parquet and poured cement. These visuals echo across the black ceiling and white walls. Black, grey and white throughout … It’s no coincidence that these are also the main colours in the Kreon collection. 

The entryway leads to the reception desk and three meeting rooms. One of these is fitted with the latest videoconference technology. Downstairs, clients are received in the modular, segmented showroom where they are free to admire the world of Kreon products. Next to the showroom is a cafeteria with a kitchen. And further down the hall is the ‘Experience Room’, designed to give simulations of all the possible Kreon lighting effects. The ground floor is also where you’ll find the laboratory for photogoniometry (the measurement of light), the photo studio, the laboratory and the technical rooms. There is particular attention paid to advanced photometry and to the zones for research and development.

Upper floor

The first floor is accessible via the parquet staircase or the lift. The stairs lead to the central axis that splits the building into symmetrical halves. On one side are the Finance and Administration departments. Above, there is a second open showroom for Belux, the Swiss lighting brand that Kreon acquired from Vitra. A long passageway runs to the left and right of the building. It gives a view of the large windows and … light.


Project details:

Client     Kreon nv
Location    Opglabbeek – Belgium
Subject    New construction
Programme    Office building
Completion    2017
Gross surface area    4,800 sq m
Construction costs    € 7,000,000
Stability    DS Engineering
Technics    Studiebureau Boydens
Photos: Serge Brison ©

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