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Ghent State Archives

Location Ghent, Belgium
Timeline 2012 - 2014

engineering for a new building housing the state archives

Intro

This new building contains 40 km of closed-volume archives, including ancient manuscripts. The optimal conservation conditions are partly created by the thermal inertia of the very massive deposit walls. In the public space, where the archives are consulted, the concrete ceilings are used for night cooling. Rooflights with photovoltaic cells provide abundant daylight.

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Client(s)
  • Buildings Agency
Architects
  • Arch & Teco Architecture & Planning
  • Robbrecht en Daem architecten
Stats
9525 m²

Story

The great thermal inertia of the very massive depot walls buffer both internal heat and humidity fluctuations and external climate fluctuations.

The State Archives since 1904 keep the records of central and local administrations, convents, churches … - from the 12th century till the 18th century - but had a dire lack of space in the historical Geraard de Duivelsteen. Conditioning and security also no longer met the contemporary standards. The historical location couldn’t be expanded. So the choice was made for a new building, with 40 km of archives (then 7 km). The design by Robbrecht & Daem and Arch. & Teco Architecture & Planning consists of a closed volume for the archives and an open wing for personnel and public. VK took care of the M&E engineering.

The depot spaces are climatised both passively and actively. The great thermal inertia of the very massive depot walls buffer both internal heat and humidity fluctuations and external climate fluctuations. An excellent thermal insulation delivers a K17-level. Furthermore, a high performance all-air conditioning installation meets the strict climate demands.

In the public space, the concrete ceilings are left exposed, enabling them to buffer cool night air. As such, there is less demand for air conditioning during the day. Moreover, efficient reflective glazing reduces heat gains.

VK also integrated other energy efficient measures. Lighting is controlled through motion detection and daylight sensors. Rain water is buffered and used for sanitary use. On top of the reading room’s skylights, photovoltaic solar panels were installed, aimed towards the south at an angle of 25°. As a result, the new State Archives have an E-level of E55, 22% less consumption of primary energy than the E70-level in the then new, stricter energy legislation.

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