Enter Projects Asia catalyses a factory in Belgium with serpentine rattan assembly

With a brief to introduce wellness and calm into an industrial space, the practice sought to undertake a grassroots sustainability approach with their sculptural intervention.

by Anmol AhujaPublished on : Jul 09, 2022

Having been acquainted with the works of the sustainable design practice, headquartered in Phuket in Thailand and working almost exclusively with rattan, their latest comes off as a fine representation of the firm's ethos of the pursuit of sustainability from a grassroots level, and a true meeting point of the contemporary and the traditional with respect to technology and materiality. That the project is located in Belgium, unlike Enter Projects Asia's last venture Spice and Barley on home turf, lends it an interesting, additional edge of context that the spiny, wavy rattan intervention - rather sculptural in form - manages to rise above from. For founder Patrick Keane and the team at EPA, the brief they received from their client in Belgium resembled a wellness brief, one involving undertaking a completely transformative approach to the space - to enliven a mixed-use project situated in an industrial lot among several such tonally consistent structures, built to function, and to infuse it with a sense of "nature and creativity'. Armed with the fluid formations of the palm-based material, the result is a space that revels in contrasts and is activated by it.

  • The rattan installation is a result to the brief received of incorporating “nature and creativity” to the space | Rattan Installation in Factory, Belgium | Enter Projects Asia | STIRworld
    The rattan installation is a result to the brief received of incorporating “nature and creativity” to the space Image: Edmund Sumner
  • The organic formations of the rattan act as the natural antecedent to the coldness of the industrial setting | Rattan Installation in Factory, Belgium | Enter Projects Asia | STIRworld
    The organic formations of the rattan act as the natural antecedent to the coldness of the industrial setting Image: Edmund Sumner
  • The spatial intervention morphs and moves through each space in the structure | Rattan Installation in Factory, Belgium | Enter Projects Asia | STIRworld
    The spatial intervention morphs and moves through each space in the structure Image: Edmund Sumner
  • With the bespoke furniture on ground and lighting fixtures overhead, the installation enhances the warmth of the space | Rattan Installation in Factory, Belgium | Enter Projects Asia | STIRworld
    With the bespoke furniture on ground and lighting fixtures overhead, the installation enhances the warmth of the space Image: Edmund Sumner

The project, and the scale and scope of the intervention, find consonance in the same. Not only does the fluidity of the ever morphing rattan stand in contrast with the ice-making function of the factory - a reflection of the process of pure spring water crystallising - the organic formations of the rattan are also seen to act as a natural antecedent to the perceived coldness of the industrial setting, enlivening it, catalysing it, and as per the brief, infusing a space of machinic manufacture with a sense of a natural setting. The spatial intervention morphs and moves through each space in the structure, and makes its presence even the more known through immediate material consonance with the bespoke furniture on ground and lighting fixtures overhead.

  • Rattan chairs used in the cafeteria, harmonise with the installation | Rattan Installation in Factory, Belgium | Enter Projects Asia | STIRworld
    Rattan chairs used in the cafeteria, harmonise with the installation Image: Edmund Sumner
  • The subtle usage of white finishes of countertops and cabinets act as a canvas for the installation | Rattan Installation in Factory, Belgium | Enter Projects Asia | STIRworld
    The subtle usage of white finishes of countertops and cabinets act as a canvas for the installation Image: Edmund Sumner
  • Curvilinear seating furniture mimic the installation hanging from the ceiling | Rattan Installation in Factory, Belgium | Enter Projects Asia | STIRworld
    Curvilinear seating furniture mimic the installation hanging from the ceiling Image: Edmund Sumner
  • Usage of plants make the space feel warm and comfortable | Rattan Installation in Factory, Belgium | Enter Projects Asia | STIRworld
    Usage of plants make the space feel warm and comfortable Image: Edmund Sumner

The branched, bulbous mass in rattan seems to be rooted near the entrance lobby, and rises akin to an expansive tree, a comprehensive neural network; its branches snaking through meeting rooms, the cafeteria, workstations, huddle spaces, and cabins. Inadvertently, the rattan formations do become the definitive elements of the space they adorn, but even if sculptural in nature, they have been designed in accordance with a pre-existing functionality. Lighting, seating, and directional flow have all been considered in the conception and formulation of the rattan sculptures, that may be seen culminating in or rising from the eight-meter high statement piece illuminating the double-height lobby, complementing the image of the brand.

  • The contrast of industrial materials with the installation makes it stand out | Rattan Installation in Factory, Belgium | Enter Projects Asia | STIRworld
    The contrast of industrial materials with the installation makes it stand out Image: Edmund Sumner
  • The subtle usage of warm tones on the walls can be observed | Rattan Installation in Factory, Belgium | Enter Projects Asia | STIRworld
    The subtle usage of warm tones on the walls can be observed Image: Edmund Sumner
  • The continuous installation creates focal point at various junctions | Rattan Installation in Factory, Belgium | Enter Projects Asia | STIRworld
    The continuous installation creates focal point at various junctions Image: Edmund Sumner

While the design and manufacture of the rattan installation pieces itself is no small feat, it is the logistics involved in their shipping and installation on-site during the peak of the pandemic that deserves a special mention. With the designers in Phuket and Sydney, a project manager from Japan, fabricators in Northern Thailand, and the project site in Belgium, the cross-continental array of coordination in design and production was managed through sharing digital files, manuscripts, and photographs. Remarkably, while shipping the sculptural forms to Belgium - not essentially brittle or fragile but sensitive due to their carefully, parametrically modelled forms - the pieces had to be digitally deconstructed for the shipping containers to be optimally filled. Like a 3D jigsaw puzzle, the segments were then assembled on-site in Belgium, with little to no room for error. Keane, Enter Projects Asia founder, additionally stated how the project emerged as a lifeline for rattan factories in Thailand during the pandemic that would have otherwise been out of work.

  • Installation of the final sculpture | Rattan Installation in Factory, Belgium | Enter Projects Asia | STIRworld
    Installation of the final sculpture Image: Courtesy of Enter Projects Asia
  • The making of the installation | Rattan Installation in Factory, Belgium | Enter Projects Asia | STIRworld
    The making of the installation Image: Courtesy of Enter Projects Asia

Projects like this one showcase that perhaps the extremely utilitarian versions of architecture, particularly industrial architecture, need not be completely overhauled in the pursuit of employee and spatial wellness, keeping with the times. Along with biophilia, the nature of this intervention warrants an enquiry into the possibility that perhaps the catalysis of such spaces by spatial interventions that aesthetically and functionally allude to an improved livability, and quite simply a more pleasant, natural environment, may imbue spaces of work, manufacture, and even entirely industrial settings with a renewed aura and sense of purpose.

  • Elevation drawing of the rattan installation | Rattan Installation in Factory, Belgium | Enter Projects Asia | STIRworld
    Elevation drawing of the rattan installation Image: Courtesy of Enter Projects Asia
  • Plan for the rattan installation | Rattan Installation in Factory, Belgium | Enter Projects Asia | STIRworld
    Plan of the rattan installation Image: Courtesy of Enter Projects Asia
  • Image showcasing the schematic structure of the rattan installation inside the building | Rattan Installation in Factory, Belgium | Enter Projects Asia | STIRworld
    Image showcasing the schematic structure of the rattan installation inside the building Image: Courtesy of Enter Projects Asia

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