Compaan and Labeur are two very famous social enterprises based in Ghent, Belgium. The two companies are economic giants who have been working relentlessly in the field of design and maintenance. They work following sustainable and social responsibilities.

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Labeur ©

Labeur is a tailor-made company focused on construction and renovation and is known for its specialisation in processing scrap wood for world-class furniture. Their branch that focuses on the architectural and design aspect of the company is Recup Designs. They also have a provision of multipurpose maintenance.

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Compaan ©

Whereas, when we talk about Compaan, the enterprise works for the social cause of employment to activate and integrate underutilised talents in the labour market along with procurement and meaningful designing of stones and scrap. They work on a note of welfare for the society to employ by teaming up with policymakers. Apart from the construction department, the firm is also focused on other fields including the culinary arts, management, material production, etc. 

The Vision

The two social enterprises’ work is to change the conventional approach to dealing with unemployment and sustainability to bring about a major shift in the concerned sectors. Sustainability and unemployment are very different but highly interdependent issues especially in the field of construction and design. 

Compaan and Labeur tackle the two by taking an adequate risk, getting innovative solutions, and working in favour of large-scale development. They focus on working with one percent inspiration and 99% perspiration to create a better future. The two companies have sub-branched into architecture and furniture design to demonstrate the more fundamental symbiotic relationships between entrepreneurship and architecture. 

The Work

Though Compaan and Labeur have numerous testimonials and accomplishments on an individual level, one of the most well-known projects they have completed as a team was the B-AND-BEE. It was created by designers Barbara Vanthorre and Ron Hermans, who represented Compaan and Labeur and collaborated with Achilles Design.

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B-AND-BEE ©Hannes Geipel

B-AND-BEE is a sustainable social housing system that was conceived as part of a competition entry but developed as a very important invention. The multi hexagonal structure is developed for the quick manual set up of individual cells for occupants to live comfortably and safely in. This project uses recycled wood to create the foldable structure, which is a specialty of Labeur, while also providing on-site employment for setting up, dismantling, and maintaining the house system, which is Compaan’s vision.

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B-AND-BEE ©Hannes Geipel

This wonderful collaboration of the three companies is an important invention that successfully addresses the problems of camping and lodging at social festivals. It also deals with the problem of shelters and emergency pods in various situations and scenarios. Compaan and Labeur have worked upon a wonderful design that is sustainable and easy to manage in every place and situation.

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Conceptualisation ©Hannes Geipel

The B-AND-BEE stackable cells have a lot of thought put into the design. It is conceptualised based on the requirements of the festival visitors. Furthermore, it is designed to be very compact and mobile. As the designers would mention, the stackable cells were subjected to a lot of prototyping and mechanical formulation before the outcome could be produced. The cells have a capacity of over 50 visitors at a time and can be compactly set up in a small area of 100 square meters. The first-ever prototype for public testing was done at DOK Ghentsee Festival 2014.

Not just this, Compaan and Labeur had previously worked together to build a restaurant that tackled the issue of sustainability and agriculture where the restaurant started using vegetables from an urban agricultural project based in Ghent. 

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B-AND-BEE prototyping ©Achilles Design

The Specialisation 

The two companies have very little social media presence wherein the design sub-branches celebrate sustainability and creativity. Recup Labeur showcases highly skilled professionals working upon converting scrap wood to different forms of furniture. A table designed with train beams, furniture using salvaged rubber wood, etc. Similarly, Compaan has been working on restoration, treatment and designing of stones. 

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Old becomes new ©
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ADA Table ©
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Marble plates ©

For instance, the marble plates for the Publiek restaurant in Ghent which Compaan developed keeping in mind the social and local aspects of production. Compaan and Labeur are also working on a line of sustainable furniture inspired by the Ministry of Makers, which focuses on sustainability, usability, and appreciation for local materials. 

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Vol+Maakt ©

We can understand the significance of risk-taking and innovation for social purposes by studying and understanding Compaan and Labeur’s working style. They help us understand the significance of local adaptability in terms of both material and human resources. The two companies aren’t solely concerned with establishing their names, but rather, they work for the bigger picture by creating employment and usability. 

Compaan and Labeur provide services confronting the compelling issues within the society, so as to deploy their expertise in a meaningful manner. Their work ethics subtly deal with the environmental strain, distress in employability and enhancement of liveability for not just their clients but also their workers. All of these factors are more than important for rooting successful entrepreneurship. 


Ayushi is an architect with a sensitivity towards global architecture and its cultural importance. She is also an exemplary artist which in turn helps her in capturing the essence of creative and colourful endeavours across the world.A keen interest in writing, researching and curating has led her to venture into the field of Architectural Journalism.

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