The unique archaeological site of the former Ename Abbey in Oudenaarde enjoys international recognition. A request was made to build a new heritage centre on this site. The design was to respect and highlight threefold activity of the centre: acqusition, examination and diffusion. The heritage centre is conceived as a workplace where the public can have first-hand experience of the entire archaeological process - from excavating, filtering, washing, numbering, restoring and cataloguing to the survey and final results of the research.
During the drafting process the vision grew that these various components should stay closely to each other. The metaphor of the barn was suggested as the most suitable interpretation of the design assignment: a simple shell in which different activities can be organised flexibly. The compact form of this concept not only brings the different programme components to an exciting interaction but, thanks to the synergy and the shared use, the construction and operating costs are greatly reduced. Thus an energy-efficient and sustainable building can be created.
The heritage centre is a simple building, composed of a large hall, containing a ground floor and a mezzanine, a top floor directly under the roof and a basement that gets daylight thanks to the raised ground floor. The architecture is contemporary yet frugal so as not to disturb the legibility of the archaeological site. The building is organized around a concrete core, bearing a large, sloping roof that shelters extensive reception spaces. The materials are simple and robust: concrete, wood, glass and zinc.
Client: Ename-Center/ Provincie Oost-Vlaanderen
In collaboration with: SWK (HVAC)
Dates: study 2002-2004