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Rijksarchief Brugge
© Salens Architecten

As if it were a stack of paper

With the new state archives, contemporary architecture has been implemented in Bruges, Belgium. Custom-made water struck facing bricks give the solid façade an exceptional appearance. The delicate structure on the façade lets the building look like a pile of paper above a transparent and open ground floor.

The State Archives are not only housed in the new building, but also occupy space in the restored former Dominican abbey which is, besides other functions, also used as a hotel. On the abbey‘s ground floor, the beautiful drawing rooms have been reinstated and turned into multifunctional conference spaces. The first floor can be used for offices and workshops. A glass footbridge with a view of the towers of Bruges provides a link to the archives in the new part.

Rijksarchief Brugge, Belgium
© Salens Architecten
Rijksarchief Brugge
© Salens Architecten

Stacked paper architecture

The new building is reminiscent of a stack of paper with irregular edges and an equally irregular roof shape, which seems to be inspired by a crumpled sheet of paper. The ground floor accommodates the transparent reading room that opens onto the street, the water and the pedestrian square. The actual archive spaces are located on the first and second floor. To create the ideal conditions for conservation, no windows have been included except for a wall opening in a protruding corner.

Rijksarchief Brugge, Belgium
© Salens Architecten

Façade with personality

A blind façade is an enormous challenge for an architect. Olivier Salens solved this task by giving the building a strong identity through choosing the extra-long and narrow water-struck facing brick with a special red finish. This contemporary Wienerberger facing brick series is characterized by a rough, uneven structure and a weather-beaten, rugged look and available in six different colours. The architect further exploited the qualities of the water-struck clay bricks by laying them in an unevenly receding pattern. In this way, daylight constantly brings life to the strong tactile surface. Kinks in the top line of the façade provide extra dynamics resulting in a striking roof shape. At night, this is further emphasised by integrated lighting.

Facts
  • Project name
    Bruges State Archives, Bruges, Belgium
  • Architect
    Salens Architecten, Olivier Salens
  • Used products

    Terca water-struck special red

Rijksarchief Brugge, Belgium

Façade bricks

Terca water-struck Special red