Fire Station outpost, Berendrecht


According to the designers, the fire station typology links a public mission to a housing assignment. This is the starting point for the design. The Berendrecht Fire Station is not a closed box, but an industrial shed surmounted by a house for the firemen, even though they might stay there only briefly.

The surroundings are almost completely lacking in context. The landscape consists of detached anonymous boxes and industrial sheds. Just like the other buildings, the fire station is also an isolated object but one that does, however, succeed in establishing empathy with the other nearby buildings.

The building consists of a concrete structure that, in the case of the fire station itself, is clad in timber. Constructed entirely in wood, the house occupies the top of the building. This creates an interesting transition between a utilitarian material (concrete) and a softer texture (wood). The dwelling is arranged around a patio that screens off the harsh surroundings. An outdoor sports field adjoins the rooftop house and fire station. It too is closed off by a wooden structure. Depending on the structure of the wall, the slats in the wooden façade-cladding change direction or composition. A coarse grain wood is used around the fire station itself, but the texture alters depending upon the function. The double programme – fire station and house – is clearly visible from the outside. This gives rise to a composite structure, rather than a monolith, and underscores the stacked and compound nature of the building.

On the one hand, the building fits into the existing pattern of isolated objects within an industrial landscape whereas, on the other, the pronounced architectural idiom extends a friendly gesture towards the surroundings. It offers a cosy place to live in what would otherwise be a wholly context-free environment. In this sense, the Berendrecht Fire Station is not only slyly secretive, but also somewhat uncanny.

Author: Katrien Embrechts and Esther Jacobs. This text has been published in the Architecture Review Flanders N°11. Embedded Architecture.

Project details




Kruisweg 2

2000 Antwerpen





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