Transparency is the central theme for “The Circle”, the new headquarters of Belgian technology giant Barco. Designed by Jaspers-Eyers Architects, the glass façade and roof systems form a skin around the circular building’s open plan interior and central atrium space, where daily activities are illuminated with a full 360 degrees of natural light.
Positioned at the centre of the site with corridors linking it to both new and surrounding buildings on the campus, The Circle, with a diameter of 75 meters and a height of 25 meters, has a spacious total floor area of 32.000 square meters.
In order to achieve a maximum amount of daylight and transparency, the architect chose steel to carry the weight of the structure, together with slender aluminium profile systems for the curtain wall façades. Giving the façade life and dynamism, the interior functions of the building register against its exterior. For example, the structure above the atrium is realised with a criss-cross rhomboid pattern that appears to float above the minimalist, vertically oriented glazing system beneath. Strong horizontals to the upper levels provide solar control for the interior, while a grand staircase in the atrium makes itself apparent on the exterior as a dynamically sloping line. Further emphasising interior/exterior connections, a water feature flows from indoors to out, blending the building into the landscape.
In total, 7.900 square meters of glass and aluminium façade systems were installed, in close collaboration between not only the architects and Reynaers Aluminium, but also Cordeel as the contractor and aluminium construction experts Belgo Metal BV. Adding complexity to the design, nearly 3.500 square meters of the total façade area was installed with what is known as a reversed curtain wall façade. Basically, the structural element of the wall is positioned to the exterior of the building, with only the narrow trim caps of the curtain wall itself visible to the interior. This type of system greatly improves transparency and outward sightlines, in line with the architect’s design goals for The Circle.
Naturally, an all-glass building raises questions about energy-efficiency and thermal control. The Reynaers Aluminium systems offer a thermally efficient standard. Further to this, the sleek horizontal rows of coffering running along the side of the building provide protection from the sun and an extensive cooling system regulates temperatures within this circle of glass.
Branding was also a key desire of Barco as a client and the design of the façade was able to address this requirement. The outer parts of the inner volumes are finished with a taut banner, which creates a sleek, curved surface.
In conclusion, a building project of such complexity requires the highest levels of co-operation between an expert building team. The result is a circular, light filled icon that will take centre stage on the Barco One Campus for years to come.