In mid 2015, the municipal services of the town of Zottegem were relocated to the site of the former Sanitary Underwear Company. Thanks to the late architect Eddy François (Argentaurum) and principal contractor Artes-Depret, this factory building was transformed into a modern administrative centre. To integrate the inside doors from an aesthetic point of view, they opted for the invisible neo S5 hinges made by Argent Alu, in some instances in combination with invisible built-in door frames.
The fact that the Sanitary Underwear Company, known as Sanitary for short, originally produced underwear for the British Commonwealth, and later for the British army as well, explains the English company name of this former business. In 2002, renovations to the former underwear company began, divided into 3 phases. The first two involved stabilizing and restoring the building. The third phase included the interior finishings. “It was really a herculean task to turn this building into a modern administrative centre,” say architects Thierry Ferfers, Caroline Dewolf and Koen Vandewalle of the principal contractor Artes-Depret in a chorus. As one of the first concrete structures in Belgium, the factory was far ahead of its time when it was built, but unfortunately it no longer fulfils today’s standards and requirements. And, of course, the years have left their mark as well.
A building within a building
The construction team also had to consider the Building Heritage Agency, which demanded that the facades, glass panes and ceilings be preserved in their original state. “For this reason we opted for the so-called box-within a-box principle, which means incorporating a new glass building into the existing building”, the architects explain their creative solution. “This way the exterior facades were preserved, while the building could fulfil contemporary requirements in terms of energy efficiency and comfort.”
Invisible integration indoors
Typical features in the building are the use of a lot of wood, the bright lighting, different colourised walls and invisible integration of the inside doors. “Thanks to the invisible door system by Argent Alu, the closed doors and walls constitute a whole: the distracting door frames disappear, while the hinges are installed in such a way that they are completely invisible from the outside,” the architect points out. “That of course lends added aesthetic value to the interior.”
Standard features of Argenta® invisidoor® door systems are the Argenta® invisible neo S5 3D-adjustable hinges. After installation, these hinges are also easy to adjust in height, width and depth without having to uninstall the door or hinge again. In addition to the integration into built-in door frames, the same invisible hinges are also used here, in combination with custom-made wooden door frames.
The renovation of the Sanitary site was a lengthy process, but the result is impressive and also exudes new life into the heritage of textile manufacturing in Zottegem.