New destination for old printing house Strobbe in Izegem

For 127 years, the printing house for the well-known tear-off calendar De Druivelaar was a showcase for Izegem. The site is located on the corner of Grote Markt in Izegem and has been abandoned since 2017 because the company moved all activities to Beveren (Roeselare). The engineering office Palmbout Urban Landscapes from Rotterdam prepared a spatial vision for the city in 2016 and chose this site as one of the ten crucial project sites for urban development.

The printing house is a well-known name in Izegem and, due to its very central location, will become a hub between the city center and the many new housing developments in the eastern part of the city. The city council of Izegem also integrates the city library, the art academy Art’Iz, the city archive and the service center for senior citizens. Today, all four have their own function and their own audience, but will therefore meet at this new location.

Architects

The study assignment for the conversion and extension of the old printing house into an integrated leisure center was awarded to the German agency BeL Sozietät für Architektur. The team is reinforced with Bureau Bouwtechniek for architecture, Imagine Structure and Mouton for stability and Transsolar and hp engineers for the techniques. BeL’s design is based on a very precise reading of the existing buildings, where they clearly indicate the Strobbe building’s potential, qualities and limitations.

At first glance, the interventions are simple, even self-evident, but make maximum use of the Strobbe factory’s existing quality and its structure. The building will be thoroughly improved where necessary, and with distinctive interior elements (props), skylights and small superstructures, the designers will make the construction suitable for the new programme. The well-thought-out installation of a light structure billboard increases the building’s signal value, but still retains its familiar appearance. The clear concept and clear design choices make the proposal strong, feasible and buildable.

The choice to house the archive on the (dark) ground floor and the generously lit library in the former printing room is convincing. The playful view into the archive, on the street side, is expressive and fascinating. The academy’s classrooms are located in the former offices and on the edge of the industrial hall. The extra circulation space has been kept very compact, resulting in an open floor plan. The location of the event room is well thought out and strategic. It enables intensive interaction between the various program components.

The industrial look and the large industrial floors give the building complex a distinctive character. After several years of vacancy and together with the building of the Woondienst region in Izegem, the historic building now gets a new future with respect for the past. The new residential area will be named Strobbe and the family printing house is also reflected in the names of the four new apartment buildings. They are named after a typeface that was used or a famous type designer: Caslon, Bodoni, Griffo and Didot.

Four stages

The construction of the four apartment buildings will proceed in stages. Construction of Caslon will start next summer. That building consists of 35 apartments spread over seven floors with a business area on the ground floor. It will be located where the housing services building still stands today. Bodoni (five floors, 28 apartments), Griffo (four floors, 26 apartments) and Didot (six floors, 24 apartments and a commercial area) will follow later.

Both the new Cultuurfabriek and all 113 apartments and commercial spaces will be heated and cooled with geothermal energy. This system will be installed and operated by Noven, a specialist in sustainable energy. A pipe system is connected to a borehole energy storage field (beo field), an underground reservoir of geothermal heat that is upgraded in a central boiler room with heat pumps. This makes it possible to install fossil-free heating on a large scale. This means that the housing units and the Cultuurfabriek are heated and passively cooled with underfloor heating.

Not only does the heating and cooling go underground, all 121 parking spaces for the residents also disappear from view. The entrance to the underground car park will be on Dirk Martenslaan. A green corridor of approximately 3,000 m² will be constructed across the car-free new residential area that will arise as a result. This wide pedestrian and bicycle boulevard will connect Kasteelstraat and Dirk Martenslaan.

Because the place offers a fantastic view, there are also winter terraces. With a large accordion window, you can enjoy the view of the nearby forest, the green roofs, the inner garden and the green corridor. If all goes according to plan, the first residents can move in in the summer of

2025.

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