The firm won an international competition to design the new headquarters in Brussels with a green campus, beating top international offices in the competition.
Collaborating with local architects Modulo Architects and VK Engineers, the studio will transform Solvay's former building, serving for many activities since 1953, into a more fluid and collaborative space where teams and partners can co-create and interact.
The new building's design, located on the 220,000m2 site, will meet the company's green ambitions of a zero carbon footprint, near zero energy building and green campus.
The esplanade, described as the 'urban carpet', will welcome people to the premises and it will have a more formal, urban character than its surroundings, featuring planters with benches, solitary trees, and small reflective pools.
The studio will create a new, large green roof, designed as a geometric garden, offering unobstructed views of the surroundings. It will also feature skylights and large sunken gardens that provide the workshop areas beneath with access to the outdoors.
"In the earliest stages, it became clear that one compact building with one common entrance into a sweeping atrium would allow everyone who passes through the headquarters to share the same unique experience of the building, and create a strong sense of belonging," said Tiago Pereira, partner at Schmidt Hammer Lassen.
"We translated Solvay's desire for a welcoming, innovative, sustainable headquarters into an architecturally bold statement that reflects its core values and creates a new identity."
"The existing park on the west side of the entrance will become a dedicated forest, and will reintroduce the 18th century old water stream linked to the Senne. Rainwater across the campus will be harvested and reused as much as possible, and the stream will amplify the natural rainwater ponds to boost biodiversity while creating microclimates."
The team will also design an open-air amphitheatre in the yard on the north side of the campus which will connect the headquarters with the new restaurant. SHL will protect the existing trees when shaping this space in order to take advantage of the sloping landscape and the historic value of the existing species.
The green spaces and the large plaza will guide staff and visitors to the glazed, open and inviting main entrance lobby, flanked by the café and the Solvay Experience Centre. Inside the building, an impressive atrium, bathed in natural light, will offer social and visual connectivity between floors and departments.
The first two floors house the laboratories and workshops, while the offices occupy the upper four floors. In between these, the Meeting Centre allows employees to gather, relax and communicate, while taking in the campus's green views through large 360° terraces.
According to the sustainable statement of the firms, Schmidt Hammer Lassen's winning design, which is expected to be certified BREEAM Excellent, will be carbon neutral, using geothermal energy, solar cells and natural ventilation, all set on a rolling green campus.
"Over the past six years, Solvay has gone through one of the most profound business transformations in its 155-year history. This project embodies the start of a new era for the group's long-term growth, fostering closer connections and creativity between colleagues, customers and the business," said Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, CEO of Solvay.
SHL will work closely with Belgian landscape architecture firm Ontwerpbureau Pauwels on the project.
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