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A duty to mankind
The architect’s job is to implement a programme on a given site. This programme doesn’t only concern the client, but also the future occupants of the building, the neighbours, etc. Likewise, the site is not limited to the given construction surface area; it is integrated in a larger framework: a neighbourhood, a city, an environment inhabited by different functions and individuals. What about when this site is a building to be converted or renovated for a different use? This is a very common issue these days, which needs to be taken into account in the very first drafts of a project, so that future architects can avoid demolition or reconstruction if not strictly necessary. All too often, our societies have forgotten why and for whom we are building. Assar has chosen to prioritise the people and their needs. Assar’s signature is to be found in mankind, rather than in any architectural style or touch.
The interior universe speaks volumes
Designing the interior of a building is more than a simple matter of slapping on some decoration; it is about telling a story, delivering a message. Just like its exterior counterpart, interior architecture depends on the choice of materials (aesthetic, technical and ecological qualities) and the attention paid to natural lighting and colour. But it is different in that it is less static, more temporary... it therefore has a greater freedom of expression. These expressions, of course, vary according to the programme, and sometimes even vary from one room to the next in a single building. A corporate headquarters, a hospital, an exhibition venue… but also an entrance hall, a reception area, offices... So many emblematic spaces, of which the interior universe has an awful lot to say.
A green enrichment
This is an area not embraced by most Belgian architects, and yet it is incredibly useful in that it adds an interesting dimension and innovative solutions to a project such as water management and ecological management (drainage, storm water basins, green infrastructure, biodiversity…). Isolated architecture, with no need for this type of questions, is becoming rarer. And more often than you might imagine, new districts are faced with an environment that demands a specialists approach (Natura 2000 for example). This field is nothing new for Assar, and is always incorporated into its projects, sometimes with the help of other specialised companies.
Today’s cities are densely populated and are home to a considerable number of functions. Shops, housing, offices, leisure centres, healthcare facilities, research centres, etc. It is the architect’s duty to preserve the natural balance created by all these interconnected and interdependent elements inhabiting the same space. This includes reaching out to other units, such as sustainable developments, even within buildings themselves. Numerous priorities have to be considered in achieving this: the creation of intergenerational spaces, a particular focus on the disabled, the diversification of transportation methods, sharing of equipment and resources, etc. Tomorrow’s town planning is focused on mixed use, structured in terms of surface and size.
Detective and historian
In the past, Assar was merely indirectly involved in auditing tasks. Today auditing is well and truly part of the services offered, carried out on existing buildings as well as on unbuilt land; wherever there is a demand. Assar’s auditing service involves analysing (condition of the premises or site, weaknesses, potential, compliance with standards, etc.), anticipating and planning for the future. A necessary prerequisite carried out as a detective or as a historian, with the assistance of engineers, technical experts, lawyers, etc. But never imposing a solution. As it is the team that follows, whether this is Assar or not, that can use this audit to base a viable building programme on and to develop a project. Over the last two years, Assar has performed a series of audits followed by planning, budgeting and scheduling tasks.
Understanding and explaining the issues
Programming is much more than simply defining quantifiable needs and listing a series of abstract desires. It helps clients make informed decisions, and allows architects, by contributing at the very early stages, to identify solutions. When it is connected to the design stage, programming helps to move away from a virtual world and step right into a real world, set down on paper. And in a way, to provide answer to clients specific problems.
The starting line
Assar lines up its own skills, along with those of the carefully selected third parties with whom it works (including legal, fiscal and engineering experts) at the project’s starting line: the feasibility study. This is because feasibility studies cover a whole range of fields: economics, finance, technical issues, town planning, humanity. Both in terms of time (deadlines) and location (the site, the environment). Assar’s contribution in this area is related to the overall vision of architects, which enables them to successfully incorporate multiple variables, that sometimes seem contradictory, in to the project.
The knot that ties the project together
This is a fundamental, fully integrated service, offered to clients throughout the whole lifecycle of their project, from the early phases through to completion of the works.
The project manager, the ultimate point of contact, applies Assar’s internal expertise at all levels: managing consultants, budgets and costs; managing the planning and resources; managing administrative issues and contracts. The ultimate goal of this task is to help clients define, plan, monitor and deliver a project on time, within budget, and to a high standard. This service has proved its value over the course of numerous projects, starting with the Brussels Royal Military Academy.
Staying in control of the construction site
Improving construction speed and quality is the challenge set for architects today. A challenge architects face on paper, but also on the construction site. In order to supervise the work efficiently, to develop on-site solutions and to anticipate future problems and constraints, the Construction Manager or Site Coordinator’s role is characterised by a very hands-on leadership style. He is omnipresent on the construction site, both as a guiding and as a policing force. Assar has an excellent track record in this type of project, including the construction of GSK’s power plant and laboratory HQ. Assar has since been able to offer this expertise in all its projects. The innovations developed by Assar benefit considerably from the on-site experience and are thus firmly anchored in reality.
HEALTH AND SAFETY COORDINATION
Added value for the whole lifespan of a building
Publicly imposed by a Royal Decree since 2001, but imposed by assar on itself since its beginning. Assar offers this area of expertise, both necessary and compulsory, by focusing on the value of introducing it as early as possible, right from the preliminary draft stage. Integrated – and not just applied – health and safety coordination anticipates risks and adds value in terms of future upkeep and maintenance. Coordinators are architects by training, and they strive to educate those involved about this issue and its value, with the goal of reducing risks to a minimum. Their multidisciplinary experience of the construction process and their understanding of practical realities guarantee a quality service.