An urban villa building from the 1990s has been transformed into a chancellery for the Belgian Embassy in the Netherlands. The chancellery is not merely an emblem of the Embassy but an office with a public function. How does the country view itself through its history, especially in relation to the Netherlands?
The structure of the office is based on the management style and the communications structure of the organization. In principle, it presents a low threshold to visitors and is only latently hierarchical. The Embassy needed a multi-roomed structure that accorded with this principle. The need for flexibility was also relevant, and resulted in among other things a multifunctional conference room which can be connected to the restaurant, when required, making it suitable for receptions.
Security was another important consideration. The waiting room is marked on the one hand by openness, transparency and representation, and on the other by privacy and security. These normally contradictory qualities are united in a single design. The positions of the working rooms of the Ambassador and senior diplomats, as well as the archives and the code room (a Faraday cage) were subject to special security standards. These had a crucial effect on the design.
A chancellery has both expatriate staff members, who move on after about four years, and local staff who typically stay for many years. A pleasant working environment is above all essential to the latter group. Daylight, ventilation, temperature control and acoustics were important considerations in the design.
The detailing embodies subtle references to Belgium’s different language cultures, those of Wallonia, Flanders and German-speaking Belgium.