22 November 2023

Reinventing a Belgian tannery

Jonathan Tuckey Design and BC Architects & Studies have been granted first stage planning approval for the reinvention of a landmark tannery in rural Belgium.

The existing building has an eclectic past that dates back to the 19th century. A statement on the rural landscape, the factory treated and distributed hides throughout Belgium during the inter-war period of its formative years. In 1953 the tanneries relevance was cast into disrepute following the removal of a dam and uncertainty over the future water supply. This culminated in the factory ceasing operations in 1981 and it has been subject to a slow state of deterioration since.

Standing as an imposing 60-meter-long monolith, this vacant shell rises from a river confluence, a substantial reminder of 20th century industrial decline. What currently lacks in viver certainly does not in promise.

The brief, commissioned by Miss Miyagi, has called to preserve and restore the original structure whilst injecting contemporary functionality and ambition in a bid to bring tourism and commerce to the area. When complete, the tannery will embody a newly discovered guise as a cultural meeting point, offering a tailored experience of accommodation, dining, well-being and outdoor activity.

The proposed scheme showcases a desire to celebrate the buildings scale and history whilst harnessing improved spatial flow, a stronger relationship to the outdoors and a diverse array of private and social areas. A lightweight linear ground floor extension will blur the tanneries perimeter, with floor to ceiling glazing offering unparalleled views to the woodland beyond. The timber colonnade references the original buildings rhythmic internal vernacular, with this proposed addition to house a restaurant and communal workspace. Several guestroom typologies, such as double suites, fully equipped studios and an open-plan dormitory will welcome a diverse array of stays. Timber insertions will frame deep thresholds and recesses, with delicate batten panelling lining sweeping corridors, offsetting the visual weight of the considerable stone walls.

Jonathan Tuckey Design be working together with BC Architects & Studies, BAS bvba (structural engineers), FTI (M&E) and Wouter Rommens (ecologist) to execute the project ambitions.

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