Aeropolis II

Developer

Groep Arco - KWB - KAV – KAJ

Aeropolis II © Architectes Associés

Description

Aeropolis II is an office building in Schaerbeek (Brussels) that has been completed in 2010 and designed by the Belgian architectural office Architectes Associés. The building contains 6 floors and has a floor area of 7388 m² above ground level. From the design stage on, priority was given to reducing energy consumption and the use of renewable resources. Therefore, the façade surfaces were limited to achieve compactness and to lower thermal loss.

The façades' structure and construction

 

The façade consists of prefabricated façade modules. There are three façade modules: two glazed modules with different width of the glazing area and an opaque module. Each module is 90 cm wide and 3,46 m high. The space is divided into areas that line up with facade elements. The plan of a typical office consists of three modules (Delfosse, 2019). 

The façade consists of 3 façade module types. © Architectes Associés, edited by Charlotte Cambier

The modules are connected to the building’s concrete skeleton structure by metal connection elements. The modules are prefabricated and arrived on the site ready to be connected to the building’s structure.

The modules are connected to the building’s concrete skeleton structure by metal connection elements. © Architectes Associés

The modules consist of a wooden frame filled with insulation. This frame is enclosed by fibre cement boards at the external side. The fibre cement boards are themselves covered with a thin insulating panel. The exterior façade cladding is made of an aluminium sheet and a single layer of glass. Both materials are attached to the wooden frame by metal profiles that have been designed for the façade of Aeropolis II. A first metal profile is fixed to the wooden lateral frame by screws and serves as a support to place the aluminium elements. Then a second specific profile is bound to the first one and is used to carry the glass in front of the aluminium. On the internal side of the module, the vapour barrier is covered with sound insulation and a perforated multiplex panel is used as interior finishing. The perforations serve to achieve a better acoustical performance in the interior spaces (Grandry, 2017).

Exploded view of the different layers in a façade modules of Aeropolis II. © Charlotte Cambier

Due to the sensitivity of wood to hydrothermal conditions, (Belgian) Oregon pine was selected as timber material. EPDM sealing has been used in this project with mortise and tenon joints. However, this tightness achieved by mechanical clamping makes dismantling the modules more difficult (Delfosse, 2019). The windows have triple glazing and blinds. In this way, an office turning into housing can accommodate a glazed and full module instead of a full module to meet the daylight requirements of a dwelling (Delfosse, 2019).

The Design for Change principles are used to evaluate the project's façade on circularity and Design for Change © OVAM

Designed for Change (or Circularity)?

This evaluation is done by using the 24 Design Principles for Design for Change. Only the principles at the Element and Building level are evaluated. The principles of the Neighbourhood level are not evaluated in this case.

The green-indicated principles are applied in the project. For the blue-indicated principles, it is not sure. The red-indicated principles are not applied. It is important to understand that it's not the goal to fulfill all 24 principles to obtain a circular building. It always depends on the context of the building, and how those principles are implemented. This evaluation is used as a reflection. All principles are discussed separately hereunder.

Element - Interfaces

 

1. Reversible joints in the building elements: An attempt has been made to use as many dry compounds as possible. Still, on some places sealing and glues are used for the air- and water tightness. 

2. SimpleThe façade panels include various layers. Those layers increase the performance of the façade, but make it difficult to assemble (and disassemble) as well.

3. Speed: It seems that the architects considered the accessibility of the connections, based on the connections that connect the modules to the concrete skeleton structure. But the façade panels are connected on multiple layers and at different places, which slows down the assembly and disassembly process.

Element - Components

4. Durable: Selecting durable materials is important to lengthen the lifespan of the building elements and because the materials and building elements must withstand being reused, which includes the wear-and-tear of frequent transport and intensive use of construction products. 
To an extent, the architects thought about the durability of the materials: oregon pine was selected as timber material due to the sensitivity of wood to hydrothermal conditions.

5. Reused: No building components of different buildings or components of different industries is reused in this project. 

6. Compatible

•    Each module is 90 cm wide and 346 cm high. 
•    The space is divided into areas that line up with facade elements. 
•    However, we don’t know if the there is a market for them once they will be sold for another purpose.

Element - Composition

7. Pace-layered: The connection between the façade panel and the concrete structure is placed under the floor finishing. Thus, the flooring (parquet) needs to be removed in order to be able to demount the façade panels. The façade elements are pace-layered to a certain extent. The panels follow in general the order: finish - insulation – structure. But it is not assured, due to the amount of connections and insulation layers, that it is possible to disassembly everything in a pace-layered sequence.  

8. Independent: The panels are not independent to each other. The assembly sequence of the panels is on after the other (from left to right or the other way around) and floor by floor.

9. Prefabricated: The prefabricated façade panels are finalised at the factory and arrive on site ready to be assembled to the building structure. Each of them has the same dimension, 270 cm large and 346 cm high.

Building - Interfaces

10. Reversible joints between elements: The façade panels are demountable. They can be demounted from the building’s structure.

Building - Components

11. Demountable: The panels can be demounted one by one, floor by floor, without damage for reuse, repair, maintenance or replacement.

12. Reusable:​ The façade panels have the possibility to be demounted and reused. All the façade panels have the same size. However, it could be that this limits the reuse of components to the project itself.

13. Expandable: The concept to expand the building was not included. 

Building - Composition

14. Versatile: The design of the building is not based on several scenarios, but the various sizing of glazed surfaces can accommodate several functions depending on the combination.
 

More information

Architectes Associés. AEROPOLIS II. Construction of an office building and plaza avenue Britsiers in Schaerbeek.

http://www.architectesassoc.be/en/projects/Aeropolis_II/928/

Gids Duurzame Gebouwen Brussel. Case studie: Aeropolis ||

https://www.gidsduurzamegebouwen.brussels/nl/aeropolis-ii.html?IDC=1519&IDD=15472

architectura.be. Aeropolis II: grootste passiefgebouw in de Benelux

https://architectura.be/nl/nieuws/3718/aeropolis-ii-grootste-passiefgebouw-in-de-benelux

© 2020 Charlotte Cambier. Created within the framework of a PhD research, funded by FWO Research Foundation Flanders.