• Practice: B-architecten
  • Website: b-architecten.be/
  • Firm Location: Antwerp
  • Country: Belgium
  • Year: 2017

(“Text as submitted by architect”)

Partners: Evert Crols, Dirk Engelen, Sven Grooten, Sebastiaan Leroy

Back in 1997, Evert Crols, Dirk Engelen and Sven Grooten set up an independent office for architecture: B-architecten was born. The three had met during their education in Antwerp and Amsterdam. At the internationally oriented Berlage Institute, it became clear that Evert, Dirk and Sven shared a common design interest. Today, the office is located in Antwerp and Brussels. Ten years after the foundation of B-architecten, they started a new initiative together with Sebastiaan Leroy: B-bis architecten became an office that focuses on small architectural projects, residential interior design, offices and shops, scenographies for exhibitions and performing arts, temporary installations and furniture design. In 2020, B-city was launched as a third B-platform with the aim to shape and supervise complex urban projects. The core of its ambition is to work on large-scale projects that carry the potential of becoming new city districts. Today, B-architecten, B-bis and B-city have naturally grown into an office of more than 60 people. Each B-team has its particular focus and way of functioning, yet they all share a distinct innovative view on the variety of projects the B-platforms stand for.

Practice Ideology

At B-architecten, B-bis and B-city, we believe that every single person can make a positive difference in life. We use our passion for the design and development of spatial solutions to build a better society with the city as main target. We do more than develop buildings: we are a platform of talented designers who want to have an impact on the urban planning policies and improve the quality of life in doing so. Design is our core business – from door handle to city district – but we equally invest in innovative research, we publish and debate, teach at different universities, take our own initiatives and seize opportunities to push the boundaries of our profession. For us, a better living environment can be achieved by urban densification. It will allow an optimized mix of experience, concentration, sustainability, quality, equality, human scale and technology. To achieve this we trust the power of our platform and the clever alliances we forge with complementary partners.

Every project is an opportunity to question, investigate and try out. We dare to question the question, we add to its value and let the design stem from the solution in a logical, but equally surprising way. All our projects are therefore unique. We deploy the knowledge and experience we have built over the years as a source of inspiration for new colleagues and other talents. We are dreaming pragmatics, eager about tradition with respect for the future. In 2017, our office transformed from a traditional top-down business model to an organisation that is focused on self-managing employees who are heavily involved in the decision making. Today, we are a close group of workers who carry a shared responsibility for the entire company process – internally and externally. We do not speak in terms of positions or tasks, but instead, there are roles and objectives. Everyone has their own autonomous responsibilities. One employee can fulfill one or several of these roles, for every one of which goals and expectations are determined after consultation with other members of the team. Important assets of this organisational structure are the division of power, clear agreements and transparent consultation structures. They make the engine of the mechanism. In this self-managing business system we share knowledge and make decisions based on mutual advice in the entire company’s interest. Yet, we believe well-being is just as important as prosperity. That’s why we have a rich tradition of well-developed team activities, such as a daily healthy lunch for all employees, snacks, pilates lessons on Wednesdays and the monthly B-café, where we invite external speakers to give a lecture. Every year we go on a day trip to B-projects in the implementation phase and in the month September we always go on a two-day trip. The working year is traditionally closed with a BBQ in the courtyard of our B-office.

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