Great architectural design provides function for indoor spaces but also considers the effect on the surrounding outdoor space. This is especially true in a sensitive habitat, like that along the coastline of Belgium, where a massive casino will meld into the curving landscape while bringing an economic boost to the region.
As winner of a recent Design & Build Competition, Nautilus consortium plans to honor both the history and the landscape with the new building, which will be located in the municipality of Middelkerke.
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The primary design goal was to create visual appeal that blends into the seascape rather than standing out against it, with a focus on building placement and integration. For example, the event hall, restaurant and casino will be situated behind transparent facades that offer views of the beach, sea and horizon beyond. From the outside, the wood structure of the ‘boulder’-shaped hotel is striking, with a light, natural appeal that contrasts the surrounding glass- and concrete-clad buildings and merges seamlessly into the surrounding flora.
Energy savings are incorporated into every phase of the design, including the cantilevered dune on top of the ground floor and the terraces of the hotel tower, which protrude over the facade, creating shade during hot summer months. In addition, the layout takes advantage of the cooling sea breezes. Material waste is avoided wherever possible, and recycled materials are incorporated throughout construction.
Structurally, the campus addresses flood risk through dike reinforcement while also providing a public space that is pedestrian-friendly. The upper seawall area is a car-free zone focused on bicyclists and foot traffic; an underground parking garage offers convenience and keeps cars out of sight.
“With this project our coast will be enriched with a new architectural anchor, that accurately represents the character of Middelkerke,” said Mayor Jean-Marie Dedecker. “It transmits strength and soberness as well as sophistication, with a lot of love for the sea and the dunes. In addition, this project may mean the beginning of the renewal of Middelkerke’s town centre as an appealing place to live and visit.”
Nautilus consortium is a collaboration between developer Ciril, chief designers ZJA (architecture) and DELVA (landscape architecture), OZ (casino and hotel design), executive architect Bureau Bouwtechniek and contractors Furnibo and Democo. They are assisted by experts from COBE, VK Engineering, Beersnielsen, Witteveen+Bos, Plantec, MINT and Sertius.
Images via Nautilus Consortium