ANTWERP (BE) - The FelixArchief is a typical 19th-century Antwerp warehouse located at a pivotal point between the town and the old port. It used to store tobacco, now books are kept there. Robbrecht en Daem architects wanted to restore and rebuild the warehouse to create a space that reflected the restfulness of the function and the history of the building. Both the architecture and the interior design were geared to this task. The architects therefore also designed virtually all the moveable and fixed elements that make up the interior layout: reception desks, benches, conference chairs, tables, reading tables, desks, reading lamps, bookshelves, kitchen fittings… This total design contributes to the harmonious entity reflected in the FelixArchief. The interior design is no mishmash of items but a carefully drawn up list of requirements.
It is not possible to apply a single description to all the furniture; the design has been adapted according to space and function. The use of materials and the colour palette ensure that the furniture forms a coherent whole with the architecture. The wooden reception desks and cupboards in the reception area and offices have been designed in a play of grey and white surfaces that bear a resemblance to the white-painted old ceiling beams and the new smooth concrete walls. The tables in the reading room are veneered in oak and – together with the oak ceiling finish – this use of materials helps create a feeling of general calm and serenity, as well as warmth. The chairs are finished in the same warm colours: oak for the backrests and dark brown seats.
Throughout the building, there are wooden benches with a pattern of coloured stripes. They are a modified version of the benches in the new concert hall in Bruges, designed by the same architects in 2002. The finish to the benches is very characteristic: the veneer was made up of coloured wooden blocks put together to form the desired pattern of stripes, after which fine sheets of veneer were sliced off and used to cover the benches. For the architects, the general ambience of a room or building is not determined solely by the architecture. They firmly believe that furniture is part of the architecture. (Veronique Boone)