Brussels – Not every co-working space can say it’s housed in a building that’s part of a MoMA collection – but not every co-working space is a space. So, when Stijn Geeraets, Maarten van Gool and Serge Hannecart entered Constantin Brodzki’s Modernist masterpiece in Watersmael-Boitsfort after a call from a real estate agent, they knew they had found the home for Fosbury & Sons’ second Belgian outpost – after all, it is the only Benelux building in MoMA’s collection.
But the location has something more than repute, it has infective ambiance – the yellow gold of the windows reflect radiantly in grey weather, and the sheer visual weight of the concrete juxtaposes against the setting of the Sonian forest beautifully. Inside, you suddenly feel as if you are in your favourite café, or restaurant – nothing is out of place, not the candles, the flowers, the décor. But for Geeraet, van Gool and Hannecart, this attentiveness is the whole point. The team has a certain alacrity that keeps them at the precipice of workspace evolution.
After major success with Fosbury & Sons’ first space in Antwerp, they chose to expand the membership-based brand to Brussels, where they will open three locations. The Watersmael-Boitsfort location is the first in the city swarm: companies can rent out offices in the eight-story building, and freelancers can freelance to their heart’s content. Badaboom – a democratised setting that pivots on organic networking and positive work psychology.
So, if you’ve ever imagined what working in a ‘1970’s James Bond film that takes a ride and lands in Japan in 2018’ feels like, a trip to Brussels is in store – together with interior architectural practice , Fosbury & Sons has got that just right and then some.
How does the redesign honour the spirit of the building and move its lifespan forward?
STIJN GEERAETS: This building, which was undervalued for too long, deserves to be used, walked through, and enjoyed. We want everybody to be able to come in and experience this building and the beautiful environment.
At the beginning of the project, we met with Mr. Brodzki at his home, which is nearby. He is 93 years old, but nevertheless he passionately gave us his vision about the building and what aspects we should keep to our attention. It is a very technical building, everything is thought through. Every detail is so well designed with a keen eye for simplicity. It all looks so logical, but that simplicity implies the difficulty and makes it so beautiful. The new things that were added are slightly different interpretations of the same material.
For instance, with the rough concrete walls, it was an inspiration to use the same concrete, but in a smoother finish. We used a lighter finish for the wood, more of Japanese kind of flavour, so that it wouldn’t become too dark or too vintage. I think Going East found the right balance between vintage and contemporary.