– 25 years after the construction of the AMI-ALVO supermarket, Mr Patrick Michiels and Mrs Greta Poppe are adding a new chapter to the history of their 65-year-old family business. In the spring of 2016, the supermarket, located at Brugstraat 46 in Berlare, will be extended with an entirely sustainable and bio-ecological new building, according to a unique building concept. –

LOCATION ARCHITECTURE: Brugstraat 46, 9290 Berlare, België
ARCHITECTURE: Martens Van Caimere Architecten bvba
PRINCIPAL DESIGNERS: Robbe Van Caimere, Nikolaas Martens
ASSISTANT DESIGNERS: Tina Peirlinck, Alba Guinovart Dalmau
STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: ir. arch. Tom Haelvoet
ENERGY CALCULATION: Martens Van Caimere Architecten bvba
Woema! cvba
PHOTOGRAPHER: Martens Van Caimere Architecten bv, Johan Suys & Cedric Verhelst

A.M.I. NV by Martens Van Caimere Architecten - Sheet2
©Martens Van Caimere Architecten bv, Johan Suys & Cedric Verhelst


Grocery shop AMI was founded in 1949 by Alfons Michiels and Louisa De Rouck. In 1958 they established the shop in Berlare Dorp until they moved to the building in Brugstraat in 1989. This doubled the surface of the shop so that an even wider range of products could be offered to the customers.

In 2015 managers Patrick Michiels and Greta Poppe decided to give the supermarket an update. The architectural firm Martens Van Caimere Architecten bvba from Ghent was asked to provide the building with an extension on the street side. In this extension, a new and spacious entrance to the supermarket is provided and the clothing department is rearranged. The complete modification of the interior at the end of 2015 marked the start of the construction works, which will be completed in the spring of 2016.

A.M.I. NV by Martens Van Caimere Architecten - Sheet
©Martens Van Caimere Architecten bv, Johan Suys & Cedric Verhelst


The expansion is formed by the addition of an extra building that follows the maximum building line on the plot, parallel to the Brugstraat. In this triangular footprint, the infrastructure of the supermarket is reorganised. Customers enter the shop through a covered entrance area. Next to the entrance there is room for shopping trolleys. In this way, the entrance links up with the existing parking infrastructure next to the building.

The design pursues an integral sustainable building concept; in terms of technology, insulation and use of materials, this shop can serve as an example within the Benelux. Sustainable mobility is also being promoted by installing a charging station for electric cars and bicycles.

A.M.I. NV by Martens Van Caimere Architecten - Sheet6
©Martens Van Caimere Architecten bv, Johan Suys & Cedric Verhelst

A unique facade concept was applied for this project. The supporting structure of the building consists of solid wood supporting walls (CLT) of 10 cm thickness. These walls remain visible in the interior and thus serve as a supporting structure, air sealing/vapour barrier and finish. This gives the interior of the entrance hall an extremely warm character, a quality rarely associated with supermarkets. On the outside, the façade finish is provided by a 20 cm thick package of lime hemp concrete. This façade skin protects the building against precipitation and forms the insulating component of the façade. Lime hemp concrete is a bio-ecological material, a residual product from the hemp plant. The use of lime hemp concrete in buildings as a facade finish originated in Switzerland. The AMI-ALVO extension in BERLARE is the first commercial project in the Benelux to use this material.

©Martens Van Caimere Architecten bv, Johan Suys & Cedric Verhelst

The unique combination of CLT wall structures with lime hemp finishing ensures that in only 2 homogeneous material layers (CLT + lime hemp) all required functions are realised, namely supporting structure + interior finishing + air sealing (CLT) and water & wind sealing + insulation + facade finishing (lime hemp). After researching the different materials in various projects, this concept was refined to its purest simplicity for the AMI-ALVO shop in Berlare, resulting in a utilitarian building that radiates warmth and tactility, both to visitors to the shop and to passers-by on the Brugstraat.


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