Claeys / Haelvoet Architecten : Réserve patrimoniale Potyze

The Yprès campaign (Belgium) is a vast necropolis, where there are some 170 military cemeteries, including that of Saint-Charles de Potyze, in front of which a cultural heritage reserve was built in 2017 by the Claeys agency / Haelvoet Architecten. Designed to store collections of works of art and objects related to the First World War, this storage space is one of the witnesses of the history of the place.

In Belgium, the city of YPRES keeps the stigmata of battles during which the Germans notably used mustard gas for the first time in 1915, a weapon of mass destruction which makes no difference between soldiers and civilians. Scene of many devastating fights, it is completely destroyed during the conflict, before being rebuilt identically in 1921, making it a Flemish city with a picturesque look.

In order to offer a temporary and central storage space to the various museums around, dedicated to this tragic moment in history, the Flemish government, the province of West Flanders and the intercommunal cultural association CO7, choose the Claeys / Haelvoet agency Architecten, based in Kortrijk (Belgium). The result: a stock of 1 830 square meters of floor area which, under a homogeneous envelope of red and brown clay shingles, almost blind for obvious reasons of conservation, fits perfectly into the local architectural landscape.


This rectangular base volume, with four-sided roofing, is distributed vertically in two levels and horizontally in two grossly aesthetic areas with its concrete structure and exposed glulam structure. The first houses technical rooms - such as a cold room, a quarantine room or conditioning - and staff offices naturally lit by a bay window on each floor on the north side. The second consists of a storage area of ​​1 300 square meters divided into four areas: one for pallet racks, one for fragile objects such as paints and textiles, another for metal items and finally a secure one for 'armory.
The whole is generously isolated, with the exception of the ground, which has the effect of reducing the thermal amplitude of the rooms, and thus to offer good conditions of conservation, but also to limit the running costs. A device completed by solar panels that responds to a desire for energy saving both during construction and operation, which earned him the Gold Medal Award Publica 2017 for "public building the most innovative from a technical point of view ".

A sober style for all-round efficiency. 

To learn more, visit the website of Claeys / Haelvoet Architecten

Photographs: Piet-Albert Goethals

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