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VK at Concrete Day 2015

Mid October, VK Architects &Engineers was present at Concrete Day 2015, an initiative of the Belgian Concrete Group (GBB-BBG), and brought two cases.

NATO headquarters: security first

Nadia Molenstra discussed the concrete studies of the new NATO headquarters in Evere, for which VK provides all engineering studies. Striking, of course, are the enormous quantities – after all, the NATO construction site is one of Belgium’s largest building sites ever. For example, the building is supported by no less than 2,100 pile foundations. In total, all buildings add up to 140,000 m³ of concrete (the actual headquarters, the Staff Centre and the Industrial Infrastructure). Concrete core activation is applied on 100,000 m². At the time of the competition, this was a brand new application – even during the design phase, this technology hadn’t been applied in Belgium on this scale.

This project is also remarkable for its extreme safety measures, which have a heavy impact on construction. As a result, nearly all concrete manufacturing occurred on-site, including a considerable part of the semi prefab structure. The high degree of supervision also impacted planning, which was constantly very closely monitored.

Carboncast: highest elements to date in Belgium for Velzeke sports hall

Luc De Cock presented a case-study on the application of carboncast in the Velzeke sports hall, for which VK provided all engineering. This fairly new method consists of sandwich panels, where the traditional connections between outer and inner shell are replaced by a carbon grid, or C-grid. Carboncast reduces the weight of the panels and enables a faster construction on site: the sports hall’s 24 panels, 9 tons in total, were assembled in a day and a half. Time is also saved on another level, as the finish is already in place when the panels arrive on site. Also space is being saved, as there is no need of bearing columns. As a final bonus, this technology is acknowledged with the international LEED certificate for ecologically sound construction.

The sports hall of Velzeke added a very specific aspect to the task: for the first time in Belgium, elements of this height were used, being 7.7 metres. The designers, both architect and structural engineer VK, needed to answer some important conceptual questions regarding transfer of charges, differential transformations, wind braces … The sports hall was successfully realized thanks to the excellent collaboration between designers and the contractor, and the good faith of the client. As a result, the sports hall was finished in a minimum of time: demolition of the existing buildings in April 2012, structural work completed by the summer holiday and delivery of the project in October of the same year.