Times change – and valuable things need to be preserved. This is also the case with De Koolputten (in German: “The Coal Pit”), a former coal family business in Waasland, East Flanders. Whereas 100 years ago this was still a trading port and the economic centre of the region, the historic site is now home to a leisure and business hot spot that is as versatile as it is sophisticated. Today, guests will find a gourmet restaurant, a bed & breakfast, an event hall and an art gallery on the banks of the Durme. After the former factory building underwent a complete makeover just a few years after it fell into disrepair, the renovated walls are now the perfect place to enjoy upscale dining.
Manuel Gordts of GMF Architecten, responsible for the project to revitalise De Koolputten, first took a close look at the character of the location. It was important for him to appreciate the complex history and architecture of the centuries-old building. But it was also important to capture and reflect the charm of the surrounding nature. Airy, bright and open – these design aspirations of the architectural team characterise the newly revitalised De Koolputten with its high glass fronts and moving plays of light.
Such an extraordinary setting, however, also requires sensitivity for the right products and materials. “In such a large space, it is difficult to create the right atmosphere. Lighting plays a crucial role here.” Visitors should feel at home and at home as soon as they enter. The top priority: to create a homely atmosphere. The WIRO and RAY lamps chosen in combination with the warm materials of wood and natural stone have a particularly cosy effect and at the same time bring lightness into the architecture. On the mezzanine floor, WIRO dances with the roof truss and creates a lively dynamic on the ceiling with suspensions of different heights.
Wall luminaire Ray by Wever and Ducre is used as reinforcement: the wall lamp provides soft, soothing light and emphasises both the texture of the brick walls and their characteristic column structure. The B&B rooms give the impression of being in an upscale ambience and yet a bit at home at the same time. WETRO lamps were used there, whose smoked glass shades cast a unique, cosy glow. A special suspension system makes it even more effective in the rooms. For location manager Peter Serneels, a dream team has succeeded on the banks of the magical Durme: Light, rooms and surroundings in perfect harmony.