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NERO

Architecture Office
Ghent

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«When in doubt, do not build.»

«When in doubt, do not build.»

«When in doubt, do not build.»

«When in doubt, do not build.»

Please, introduce yourself and your Studio…

NERO architecture and urbanism is based in Ghent and has its roots in the 80’s with experimental designs. It is since 2015 a collaboration by Tim Marlier, Thomas Van Campenhout and Peter Moens together with a young team of about 10 people strong.
 
We focus on public projects in Flanders and diverse typologies: master planning, schools, library’s, cultural centres, social housing. We like more complex urban contexts.

Most of the projects we do are the result of architectural competitions.

What are your experiences founding Nero and working as self-employed architect?

Because we started ourselves from working into a studio to leading it we value our team a lot. We believe in teamwork and a very horizontal based structure. Therefor every collaborator is responsible for his ‘own’ project from start to finish.
 
We believe creating great working conditions, atmosphere and also paying a correct salary for our collaborators to (in architecture firms we find this is still a large problem) are fundamental to creating a sustainable practice.
 
Since 2017 we moved to a new office where we are very enthusiastic about. We repurposed a historic villa and coach house as a working place for NERO but share it with interior architects and a goldsmith. We invite people to give lectures or workshops on site.
 
The best way to de-stress is weeding the garden in summertime with the whole team.

What does your desk/working space look like? 

NERO—bureau

Office Space

Office Space

What is the essence of architecture for you personally?

We think it might be about finding the right balance; between density and land use to liveability, budget and sustainability.
 
We never try to forget it is work in progress.

How do you communicate / present Architecture?

Architects are often very visually focused people, and we like beautiful drawings, photographs, models. But we think buildings are too often judged only by their pictures (online) and final result. While in fact the whole process, from drawing table to a building that accommodates different functions during decades, is about architecture.
 
A nice picture or drawing is not a guarantee for a great project.

What has to change in the Architecture Industry? How do you imagine the future?

When in doubt, do not build.
 

Please, introduce yourself and your Studio…

We are a small architecture studio of four people based in Oslo and working all over Norway. We are four persons in the office, with experience ranging from still being a student to over ten years of architectural experience.

I started the studio in the spring of 2017 after being one of the partners of Eriksen Skajaa Architects since 2010. In the office we engage in small buildings, some of which are being realized at the moment, as well as larger urban planning commissions – such as the Nesa development which is a continuation of a Europan competition we won as Eriksen Skajaa in 2017.

We engage, as many others at the moment, in the social side of architecture. Asking questions about the possibility of a more inclusive city using tools such as collective development and shared spaces. We are engaged at the moment in an interesting discussion about reuse of chirches as social spaces in the city.

I am also the prorector at the school of architecture in Bergen (BAS), where I finished my diploma in 2004, and also occasionally teach. I am also the current leader of the Oslo Association of Architects.

How did you find your way into the field of Architecture?

I went to an art and craft high school in Bergen where I was so lucky to have a ceramics teacher who encouraged me. I might have had a kind of silent dream before that but I definitely remember the moment when she told me I should try architecture – and that it felt like something true. 

What comes to your mind, when you think about your diploma project?

My diploma project at BAS was aboput the possibility of protest in urban space -  more specifically the possibility of Europeans coming to Brussels to be heard and get a position in relation to the European union. This question of architecture and urbanisms ability to give space for differences and other opinions has certainly been something that I continue to work on. My professor, and later employer was Nicholas Boyarsky from Boyarsky Murphy Architects in London. 

What are your experiences founding SKAJAA Arkitektkontor and working as a self-employed architect? 

I have really never worked for any big offices so for me the situation feels quite normal. But its certainly a struggle – as I imagine it is for everybody to get work and finding ways to make the jobs we have become interesting and meaningful. We are happy to have some good clients that we are working with at the moment and find the struggle rewarding. 

How would you characterize Oslo as location for architects who want to start their own practice?

How is the context of this place influencing your work?
For me Oslo seems like a good place to run an architecture business – having really no experience from other places. There is a good group of other small or young offices that we collaborate with and match our work to. I think there is a group of offices at the moment who are raising the bar a bit and we definitely benefit from their work. 

What does your desk/working space look like? 

Our working space is in the attic in a building we share with the architecture library owned by the National Association of Architects. We have a big table in the middle for working and smaller rooms for meeting and concentrated work. 

Project 1

TRAX: Redevelopment
of a former train transfer station
Roeselare

The redevelopment of a former train transfer station to a cultural site in the centre of Roeselare, Belgium.

Important characteristics from the surroundings and the impressive existing structure on an elevated square were the key starting points. By opening up the former warehouse on all sides and removing some small buildings we see the large plinth as one elevated urban square, the starting point of a large new and green strip in the larger masterplan for the uninhabited area’s next to the railway. Underneath the large canopy, 4 new volumes are carefully placed, searching for a balance between build and unbuilt space; between defined and non-defined areas.

The conservation of the former warehouse is crucial to make a transition and new identity for this space. There are 4 buildings planned under the canopy with a variety of functions; repetition rooms, party hall, artist studio’s, depot, etc. The most public functions are placed more at the front of the plinth. The open character of the structure also allows for lots of outdoor activities; organised or not. 

Phase 1 of the masterplan is currently build with the realization of youth- and meeting centre TRAX.

The project takes maximum use of the existing structures on site. Overall materials relate to the direct surroundings using wood, concrete, and coloured steel details. 

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Project 2

Extension  
Art School
Bruges

This small extension of the Academy of Fine Arts of Bruges is beautifully embedded in its historic courtyard. The L-shaped pavilion folds around a Linden tree, creating an enclosed patio where old and new meet. In order to give the building a contemporary look and to comply with the material requirements in the Bruges city center, the volume is fully packed with tile pans.

Large wooden windows make the context very visible inside the pavilion.The façade is conceived as a single envelope of tile pans, where braised and matt glazed tiles alternate in a pattern that refers to the familiar lace of Bruges. Sun and rain bring the shades even more to life. Inside, the volume is one open space that is fully lined with plywood panels.
 

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Website: www.nero.be
Instagram: @neroarchitectuurenstedenbouw
Photography © Filip Dujardin / ©NERO
Interview: kntxtr, 02/2019