We are a2o, a multidisciplinary team of designers.
Across our complementary expertise and skills, we are connected by shared values.
Our expertise covers architecture, urban landscaping, detailed and spatial transitions.
a2o is a breeding ground for innovation. We seek innovation to raise the levels of collective value, social engagement and sustainability in our projects.
To do so, we create an ‘open research area’ for ourselves, our clients and our design partners, in which we conduct spatial experiments: a lab where we can imagine and test the spatial impact and societal benefits.
Our approach is tailored to the complex and layered reality of today, in which we systematically seek to unveil hidden opportunities. This open research area is facilitated by the interdisciplinary expertise of the team and by the way we work in our physical working environment.
Our main office - de Silo in Hasselt - is a co-working space that we share with other creative businesses and cultural organizations. With our office in Brussels, we are placed in the heart of the dynamic capital of Europe, where we use temporary co-working environments to keep exploring new networks and environments. Our approach prevents us from getting trapped in unimaginative processes, generic solutions or architectural arbitrariness. Our investigative attitude not only constitutes the basis of each project, it also aims at a high degree of reflection and capacity building within the team.
Space is a scarce commodity that is claimed by multiple actors in our societies. When a space becomes built up, it is purposed for a specific programme for a long period of time. Buildings are surrounded by public spaces which belong to everyone. All users have their own expectations of it and are confronted with the expectations of the other. All our work revolves around facilitating the dialogue between building and public space, and between diverse users.
Designing is an activity of connecting. We design buildings that connect to their environment. We are conscious of the effects that our interventions have on the large scale of the village, city or landscape.
We define our mission as the search for architecture, which is a cultural act leading to building. Spaces can be defined as meaningful places through social, cultural and historical values. We emphasize this definition in every project by striving for added value, aiming to reinforce the sociocultural narrative of each place.
A suitable design is a durable design. Resilience to us is a key condition for making a spatial intervention in the urban landscape. Resilience to us means that spaces, both existing and newly designed ones, possess the quality to outlive their primary life cycle. After this cycle, a space can accommodate a new user or function, even though that space was not initially designed for such new functions.
Nature is a counterpart to building, one that has always been there. For decades, urbanism has focussed on controlling nature and pushing it outside the boundaries of settlements. Contemporary urbanism explores the benefits of letting nature run its own course in the urban environment. We contribute to this rediscovery by giving room to nature in private and public outdoor spaces.
different FIELDS OF expertise
At the heart of our profession is the assignment to create spaces – buildings, urban landscapes, interiors – or to create a mindset. Across all scale levels, our work contributes to the shaping of continuity in the urban context.
We uphold the artisanal character of our profession in our dedication to the entire process, from the first sketch to the final technical detail. However, societal changes continuously ask us to renew our expertise and add new skills. Internally, we have defined four cells – architecture, urban landscape, detail, and spatial transition – to efficiently respond to changing expectations from our profession.
Moreover, we have access to a wide professional network that makes it possible to team up with project partners who complement our own expertise.
Appropriate intervention in space with strong structures and hybrid programmes
We strive to realize an architecture with respect of time: past, present and future. We make buildings that continue narratives from the past – a significant part of our portfolio is about reuse of built heritage, building transformation and urban renewal in inner city areas. Our designs anticipate the requirements of the present, and we particularly look beyond the demands in design briefs to augment the quality for the community as a whole. We anticipate the needs of the future by striving to make resilient structures that can easily and be transformed and reused. We cultivate our expertise in visualisation, BIM modelling and digital communication to streamline our design and building processes.
Investigative design in urban and landscape space
We seek answers to climate-adaptive development on the level of the urban landscape. We do so by means of investigative design on two levels. Firstly, on the level of the urban design. We develop projects to improve urban centres, business estates and urbanised landscapes on the city fringes. Secondly, on the level of the outdoor environment of our buildings, where the implementation of green spaces can improve the microclimate for end users. We particularly look for opportunities to improve the quality of public spaces around our buildings, by making these useable, more connective, and greener.
Making connections between the user, architecture and the environment through interior design in a sustainable way
Interior design is a discipline undergoing a renaissance. We perceive the discipline of interior design as a key complement to architecture and urban design, because it is the spatial layer that facilitates the user in appropriating spaces – not only building interiors but also public and shared outdoor spaces. In a changing society, a well-designed scenography anchors the human scale. Moreover, we implement interior design to ensure that all layers of the building perform independently, which is necessary for flexibility and circular building.
Untangling societal challenges with space as a mediator
With our design expertise we engage in spatial problem-solving beyond the traditional brief of the architect. We do so in the phases before the actual design brief is formulated, or at the moments when opposing interests of stakeholders bring planning processes to a halt. We take up an active and activistic role at such stages of planning processes. This allows us to infuse decision- and policymaking with insight in spatial opportunities and scenarios. Such projects are founded on research by design, involving stakeholders in co-creation processes. This research by design allows us to advise clients by visualising concrete spatial answers to abstract challenges such as climate change. Our aim is to open windows to unseen opportunities.