The original assignment for the Academie MWD (academy for music, word and dance) in Dilbeek, Belgium, was to relate the new building with it’s surroundings: the adjacent cultural centre, a forest, a residential area. It was an open question giving architect Carlos Arroyo an opportunity to play with the design. Colors and light we’re used in several ways to make the building dynamic, striking, but also to make it fit in it’s surroundings. He made a dynamic building with an exterior that reflects it’s surrounding almost literally. One coincidence: there’s a building nearby from the 60’s by Alfons Hoppenbrouwers. Not only an architect, Alfons Hoppenbouwer painted as well. His paintings we’re based on music, trying to recreate the rhythm of music through colors.
(all photo’s by Miguel de Guzman)
One side of the Academie MWB was decorated with glass panes based on the Hoppenbrouwers painting. Carlos had to scale the painting to the proportions of the building, find the proper type of glass panes and colors to use, and use mock-ups to experiment with the reflection of natural light on the glass panes. Some of the optical effects are very subtle, with the light of the glass panes reflecting on the other glass panes, changing it’s colors and overall look. If you look closely at the photo’s below you’ll see the the reflection effect.
If you look at the facade of the buildings in the direction of the forest the building looks entirely different. This vantage point was made to not disturb the view forest too much. By adding glass panes that resemble a forest, the structure as a whole is camouflaged. Depending on the time of day the light will reflect on the building differently so the two forests blend properly throughout the day. Notice the part that’s left grey, where the entrance is. This is shaped like a normal house, to make the building fit in the neighborhood better. This way the large building is brought back to a smaller scale so it doesn’t disturb the surroundings too much.
The interior is predominantly white. Everywhere the same white is used: for the walls, the ceilings, even the radiators have the same clean white. Some rooms have a colored floor. When the sun shines into these rooms, which only occurs once a day, the light reflects off the colored floor and colors the entire space as you can see in the photo below.