In 2015, we joined forces with Architecture 00. Together, we enjoy collaborating in a shared environment where strategic, urban and social designers, architects, programmers and economists practice design beyond its traditional borders. 00 work with individuals, governments, corporations and communities to solve problems and anticipate change, and to design successful platforms and places. As a studio it aims to reach beyond the design of objects themselves to the social, economic and environmental systems behind them.

Niko R+D

Studio Weave was commissioned by Niko – the Belgian market leader in switching materials, door communication systems, lighting control and home automation systems – to prepare a design for the refurbishment and extension of its research & development building at their HQ site in Sint-Niklaas, Belgium.

The existing building is a red brick and concrete construction dominated by vertical brick fins and while it does not currently provide the flexible space needed or inspire creativity, it is solidly constructed and suitable for some types of spaces.

Our proposal is to allow the existing building to live up to its full potential by approaching the extension like a snail coming out of its shell.

The extended building is pulled out from the existing and a double-height open space is created at its centre.

This top-lit, courtyard-like heart of the building is surrounded by a diversity of spaces of varying qualities from tables for social and informal work use, to changeable spaces created between rolling library stacks, to open work areas with flexible curtain-partitions.

The interior and exterior are connected with a floor graphic that illustrates the diversity of the spaces and runs to the open spaces surrounding the building. The landscape is important both as a pleasant green backdrop for the workplace and an integral part of the energy strategy.

The new building would have two entrances, the existing entrance becoming the staff entrance, and a new entrance that leads directly into the heart of the building via an arched lobby.

By upgrading the façade of the old building between its brick fins, the new building appears to have come from within the old one, creating a dynamic interplay and happy coexistence between the two elements.

The façade has been designed in response to Belgian industrial architecture of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

This concept is a play on the Niko R&D department being described as a ‘concept factory’ and enjoys the surprising juxtaposition between the old and new.

The existing brick-clad concrete piers to the NE, NW and SE elevations would be retained. Some of the piers to the existing SW elevation will be retained and become internal within the extended building but will no longer be structural. The existing building becomes home to the archive and workshops, which require less light.