Zuidboulevard and Public Library, Waregem, Belgium

The reconstruction of the Zuidboulevard in Waregem ensures a thorough renovation of the city. The Zuidboulevard is the new gateway to the city and connects the cultural centre De Schakel, the city hall and the new library with each other. Instead of being a cul-de-sac, this renewed boulevard is a turning point, a climax for the previously interrupted loop for shopping, walking and cycling. This transforms the site into an easily navigable place.
 The Zuidboulevard consists of an esplanade along which houses are organized in three clearly recognizable volumes. By dividing the housing program into three smaller entities, the volumes receive more façade and the apartments more quality, views and light. An important characteristic of the new urban development plan is that no front or back side is to be created. The boulevard side is just as much a front side as the library side. The residential volumes are visible from the four compass points, which is why all facades are equally designed. The library is by far the most important building on the site. Not only because its function can truly activate a public space, but because the building itself can embrace the site and the environment through its architecture as well. In order to encourage its readability and visibility, the architects have chosen to house the library in an independent volume, separate from the planned homes and other functions.
 On the outside, the library looks like a low, glass disc. The thin protruding roof edge reinforces the idea of a building entirely on the ground floor. However, upon entering the building, a more complex architecture opens up. The simple façade conceals the wide concrete shell on the inside that gently fills the volume of the library with a variety of high and low spaces around a central lightwall. Although the library extends over two levels, the entire surface feels like one large stepped surface. All departments, reading rooms and seating areas are organized on this sloping floor. For practical reasons, the reading rooms are housed on the flat corners of the promenade. This design immediately provides a clear circulation and integral accessibility. The four glazed facades together with central spotlights (north light) provide the basic lighting for the building. All facades are designed in an identical way to prevent the building from turning its back to the Zuidboulevard.
Client
City of Waregem
Architects
Robbrecht en Daem architecten, Goedefroo+Goedefroo
Program
city renovation project with the reconstruction of the Zuidboulevard and the realisation of a new public library
Location
Waregem, Belgium
Date
2012–2016
Status
Completed
Floor Surface
4.600 m2 (library)
Team
Paul Robbrecht, Hilde Daem, Johannes Robbrecht, Bert Haerynck, Asli Çiçek, Trice Hofkens
Structural Engineering
VK Engineering
Services Engineering
VK Engineering
Landscape
Bureau Bas Smets
Infrastructural Engineering
Studiebureau Demey
Procedure
Design, Build
Developer
Vanhaerents Development nv
Contractor
Artes Depret
Security
VeCoBo