Compagnie-O is an open design platform. We operate within the free field of spatial design, centrifuging around our architectural production. We exploit spatial potentials using architecture, from detail to landscape. We call our work conceptual, but build at the same time: we are both generalists and specialists.

Compagnie-O emerged from the initial collaboration between Joke Vermeulen and Francis Catteeuw. At present, a diverse team with mutually different viewpoints, interests, educational and professional background, age, nationality and skill set surrounds them.

We refuse to develop a "signature-language" and aim to avoid typecasting as we accept uncertainty as a daily reality. We question the question. Initially unbiased, we make decisions through targeted insights.

Modus operandi is an uncurbed versatility. This flexibility steers the entirety of the design process and allows us to remain open to the complex richness of society.


Hey, the Topsportsschool is published in MARK 68 !

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Our office is located on Korenmarkt 8 b201 in Ghent, hidden on the first floor of the medieval greystone House/Café Borluut.
When you pass the terrasses, take the entrance on the left and the elevator to +1.


Joke Vermeulen
Curriculum Joke Vermeulen

Francis Catteeuw
Curriculum Francis Catteeuw

Stefan Hooijmans
Ir. Architect

Ruben Rottiers
Ir. Architect

Sien Cornillie

Elias Verdegem
Ir. Architect

Pieterjan De Bock
Ir. Architect

Olga Salata

Erjen Gregoire

Ilse Verhaeghe
Ir. Architect

Boyan Stoyanov


Topsportschool - Antwerp

Date: 2011 - 2016
Client: AG VESPA
Program: 5400 m² School + Paradeplein
Adress: Edegemsesteenweg 100 Wilrijk Antwerp
Photo: Bart Gosselin + Tim Van De Velde


The Topsportschool is a 'machine à exceller' meant to operate seamlessly and swift. The inhabitant, an often slightly narcissistic and voyeuristic athlete, is obsessed with his body, performance and ranking. In response, the inside of the building is one of both reflective and transparent surfaces and long vista’s - one is simultaneously observer and observant.
The building lies on the 6th Brialmont-fortress of the fortress ring around the city of Antwerp, next to its very own Roman Circus-type square: the Square of Parades. Its sculptural concrete base is filled with sports facilities and gives the building a kind of spatial autonomy to its surroundings. On top of this base the so-called “school-disk” functions as a kaleidoscopic glasshouse for education.

House Machelen

Date: 2013-2016
Client: private
Program: 310 m²
Team: Compagnie-O bvba


Museum for Shoes & Brushes - Izegem

Date: 2006 - 2017
Client: City of Izegem
Adress: Izegem, Prins Albertlaan 5
Program: 2443 m² from which 515m2 as new construction
Team:Compagnie-O architects icw Geert Pauwels & Sabine Okkerse


In the industrial area near the port of Izegem lies a somewhat odd monument with an art-déco front office and factory buildings in the back: this is the former shoe factory "Eperon d'Or”. With the new program in mind, this to-be national museum for shoes and brushes was in desperate need for a complete renovation and volume upgrade. In cooperation with a heritage specialist, we decided to do the minimum. We restored what was already of value and added only the absolutely necessary: a staircase inside, a new small theatre at the backside and a golden exhibition space on top.

Safety Pavillion Knokke

Date: 2015
Cliënt: City of Knokke
Adress: Lichttorenplein Knokke
Team: Compagnie-O Architects with John Körmeling


If there is one building line we shan’t cross, it is our coastline. Yet somehow there is still that one building left to be built: a new Safety Pavilion – an observation post for the lifeguards of Knokke-Heist. The first of its kind. But should we build where we don’t want to?
- enters Dutch architect/artist John Körmeling -
“… the Belgian coast is a beautiful linear city, isn’t it?”
“… and what if we do nothing, or almost nothing?”
“… it has to be something pretty and playful like Brighton or Joseph Emberton. A party in Belgium! Something round and pink?”
This ‘machine à surveiller’ wants to be virtually absent, yet highly visible at the same time. From the boulevard, only the elevated look-out shows itself, as the cornice of the pavilion coincides with the horizon at sea. From the beach however, a cylindrical object lets in the most democratic and sandy of public spaces from all sides. It is bright yellow as plastic beach toys and buoys – as the sun, and one of the universal colours of the lifeguards. A sense of safety is induced by the pavilions’ taboo-free transparency and permeability.

Graveyard Pavilions - Brasschaat


The city of Brasschaat wanted to update her entrance and service buildings on all four cemeteries. The use of these buildings is mainly linked to the maintenance of the parklike cemeteries, therefore it has little or no ceremonial function. We deliberately designed archetypical buildings, referring to a ‘garden shed’, a form known to everyone and not specifically linked to a cemetery. To minimize the volumetric impact of the service building, we decided to split the programme in two separate pavilions; one contains an office space, private bathroom and public toilet. The second one is purely for storing (technical) equipment.

To transcend the simplicity of the form and the banality of a ‘garden shed’, we carefully selected the cladding materials. The office-pavilion will be robed in shiny aluminium corrugated sheets, reflecting its green surroundings and playing with light and shadow, even at night. White translucent corrugated sheets will cover the complete façade and roof of the storage pavilion.

On one of the four cemeteries, we were also asked to design a canopy as a shelter where final rituals take place. In contrast to the service pavilions this canopy does have a ceremonial meaning. On a bare plot of land, next to the existing cemetery and in between a forest on one side and some meadows on the other, we are looking for some enclosure. We decided to situate the canopy on the lower part of the site, closer to the forest and supported by a gentle slope in the terrain. This design is a “work in progress”.

New Administrative Center - Brasschaat

Date: 2014
Client: City of Brasschaat
Program: 3800m²
Team: Compagnie-O. architects icw Technum
Adress: Verhoevenlei


This project aims to facilitate human interaction rather than project formalistic concepts.

Loods 22 - Ghent

Date: 2005 - 2010
Client: Locus Developments
Program: 12000 m²
Team: Compagnie-O. architects icw Stefaan Platteau, Lies Trybou, Kim Pecheur, Renée Steyaert


Dit project omvat de restauratie en reconversie van de als monument beschermde loods 22 aan de Voorhaven in de Gentse Muide-Meulestede wijk. Deze loods vormt samen met loodsen 20 en 23 de enige overgebleven constructies op de kades van de Voorhaven. Ze werden op het eind van de 19de eeuw opgetrokken als op-en overslagloods van katoen die massaal aangevoerd werd om de op volle toeren draaiende Gentse textielindustie te voeden. Halfweg de 20ste eeuw verloren ze hun functie ten voordele van de noordwaartse uitbreiding van de haven, met zware aftakeling en zelfs gedeeltelijke afbraak (van loodsen 21 en 24) tot gevolg.
Dankzij nieuwe visies over de reconversie van industriële sites en de gestructureerde en voortdurende inzet van het private initiatief ontstond er eind jaren 80 een fundamentele kentering aan de Voorhaven. Verschillende pakhuizen werden ondertussen herbestemd en brachten nieuwe impulsen in de wijk. Met de reconversie van de loods 22 en de aanpalende Loods 23 worden de meest prominente artefacten van het industrieel verleden volledig geherwaardeerd.

De loods meet 100 bij 40 meter en dit over 3 bouwlagen. De halfondergrondse baksteen kelder draagt een uiterst lichte, hyperstatische stalen bovenbouw. Het dakvlak wordt gevormd door een dubbele rij Polonceau spanten die telkens 20m overspannen. Een rondom rond 5m uitkragende luifel (om het katoen tijdens laden en lossen tegen regen te beschermen) draagt bij tot het zeer specifieke silhouet van de loods.
De gelijkvloerse verdieping is bestemd voor handel en diensten die vanaf de half-bovengrondse sokkel rondom toegankelijk zijn. De ruimtes kijken uit over de kades, de voorhaven en de wijk. De verdieping biedt ruimte aan 20 woonlofts, ontsloten vanuit 2 inkompartijen.
Elke ingreep moet zich meten met enerzijds de dominante logica van de structuur: een strak kolommen-en balkengrid en anderzijds de schaal van de loods en de site: industrieel en groots.
De ontwerpzetten zijn dan ook telkens ‘afgewogen’ en delicaat zoekend naar één juiste ingreep met een maximum aan rendement; financieel én architecturaal.

Het voorontwerp van de aanpalende 'zusterloods' 23 is ondertussen aangevat.

Fire Station - Puurs

Date: 2006 - 2011
Client: City of Puurs
Program: 2500 m²
Team: Compagnie-O. architects


The design of the fire station in Puurs starts from a pure functionality of the building on the one hand, a machine à travailler, and from a unique setting on the other.
The requirement of a large central hall (the remise), on both sides lined with turn-out zones, a relatively high hose drying tower, the extensibility of the fire station with sleeping areas, combined with a complex internal organization, led the design in a certain direction: a building with a footprint of 72 by 35 meters with a distinct architectural personality. The hose drying tower, combined with a practicing tower, acts as a vertical entity and vertically and serves as a billboard for the fire department and the city of Puurs. On both sides the fire station is given meter wide porches so that the building is literally framed in the landscape.

Housing Verbeemen - Mechelen

Date: 2015
Client: Santerra
Program: Residential Housing


More info soon to be included

Post Nuclear Necropolis - Antwerp

Date: 2014 - 2016
Theme: Landscape-study for Problematic Scenery
Program: Landscape-park with a necropolis in cooling towers
Adress: Doel + Verdronken Land van Saeftinghe


In the North of Antwerp, on the banks of the Scheldt, lays the nuclear power station of Doel.
The government has made post-Fukushima plans to close it down within the next 20 years. We propose to shut it down right now. By breaching the dykes, the polders are pushed inland, leaving wetlands and harbour to create a new cohabitation. These new wetlands can be seen as an ecological sponge that will protect Antwerp from floods.
The vast scale of the wetlands, the harbour and the leftover cooling towers create a feeling of a desolate, “lonely” landscape. The great architectural appeal of these 176m tall towers lies within the combination of their majestic scale and the elegance of their tectonic structure. We re-use these two artefacts as bearers of 126 years of deceased beloved ones – 413.340 urns per tower. The lonely landscape thus houses a Post-Nuclear Necropolis.

Women's Prison - Holmsheidi

Date: 2012
Client: Rikiskaup (The State Trading Centre)
Program: 3700 m² of prison
Team: Compagnie-O. architects


The imprisonment of people is perhaps the best kept taboo within our modern society. By fencing-in, detaining and controlling a minority, it generates freedom for the majority. But can it at the same time facilitate freedom within the confinement?
In the Holmheidi proposal, the idea of control through the panopoticon is radically challenged. This shift alters society’s view of the prison as an anonymous building. Outside has to deal with inside, still behind a screen, but recognizable and present.
On the inside, the prisoners gaze is liberated from the centripetal force of the panopticon. The field of view is free and randomized in all directions.
All the cells are situated on the first floor, leaving ground floor for communal activities, staff and visitors. The rooftop is conceived as a communal outdoor space.
The circular ground plan and the fully glazed inner court provide the guards with a 360 vision on all levels.
This ‘mesh of gaze’ coincides with the ‘openness of mind’ throughout the prison. It also refers to the traditional Icelandic lopapeysa (pullover).

Elementary School 'Dender' - Geraardsbergen

Date: 2003 - 2009
Client: Ministry of Education
Program: 1200 m²
Team: Compagnie-O. architects


The existing primary school of Geraardsbergen nests itself in an absurd inner area in the center of this historical Flemish town. The question for a considerable extension/addition of the existing school with 8 classes and a polyvalent space came to our attention. We decided in our sketch-proposal to separate the polyvalent space and classes from each other in order to protect the scarce rest space of the building site.

The volume carrying the classes has been designed as a vertical thin disk (6 meters by 36 meters and app. 10 meters high), which is smacked against the existing building. The old broad hallways and staircases on the different levels are reused for the access to the new wing. By recycling square meters on this side, we were able to offer the school larger classes. By connecting to the existing wing, we were obliged to take over the height of the older classes, which is now a days quiet luxurious.
The polyvalent space, mostly used as sport hall, has, in contrast to the class-wing- a strong horizontal character and is therefore (as compact as possible) built in the inner-area against the existing school. The façades of the bold volume accompany the children, parents and teachers as they enter their school. A large steel canopy crowns the hall and marks the renewed entrance area with the school reception at the end.
The polyvalent space also functions independently from the school by the addition of an extra entrance, facing the street. This is an important aspect for the school, aiming to be a "broad school" in the near future.

The polyvalent space as a cobblestone, the new classes as a casco-structure against the existing school.

BXXL - a new logistics center for Brussels Port

Date: 2013
Client: Brussels Harbor
Program: 71.600m² -
Team: Compagnie-O. architects icw Antea and Proap
Capacity: 75.000 euro pallets – 30 truck docks


The process started with a brief to design a new logistics center for the harbor of Brussels. This particular region of Brussels has had for several years a hectic and fairly inconsistent planning and development strategy.

Previous attempts to design the logistic center ignored public spaces and focused on infrastructure for capital gain. Heavy protests by the surrounding neighborhood inevitably stalled the project due to conflicting ideas.

Our approach starts with the development of the site by creating a new dialogue between the harbor, surrounding neighborhood and city. In our opinion it is possible to satisfy all parties – The key to achieve this lays in the concentration and combination of all needed functions, while maintaining a minimal footprint on the site.

The result is a concentrated multi-modal automated storage facility which forms the “attic of Brussels “.

By compacting the harbor activities on a small footprint; it liberates a much needed decompression zone for the neighborhood. the park connects with the existing open space and allows for a direct connection to the canal. The logistics center functions as a landmark for the neighborhood, for the city, for the ongoing development of the cityscape.

The existing elevated road wraps around the 80×80 meter cube and provides a panoramic view of the park with public activities and sports fields. It is also a connection that may host food markets, concerts, street theater and so on.

Inside the black box are 3 levels each with a specific method of handling and storing cargo. Each level is connected through vertical shafts, thus eliminating the need to cover long horizontal distances. This is a more efficient configuration that provides faster circulation and uses less energy.

On top of the logistics center is the 'attic of Brussels' with its first open air pool for the city. This connects the public with an unknown urban space and could help revitalize the identity of the area.

By tearing down some of the ad hoc expansions and keeping interesting parts of existing buildings we accentuate the current qualities of the area. Two prominent buildings: the old train station and warehouse from the 1958 world expo era are reused for new functions.

The old train station becomes the new entrance of the rooftop pool connected by an escalator. by adding a pool on top of the logistics center; we ensure the adaptation of the new logistics center by the people of the neighborhood and give the city their long over due open air pool.

Party Hall - Kortrijk

Date: 2014
Client: City of Kortrijk
Program: 1760 m²
Team: Compagnie-O. architects icw VK engineers


A party hall is all about fun and freedom. It is a social landscape filled with intimate moments and exciting energy. Therefore, a party is treated as an event, an intense experience of stimulating music, rhythmic lighting, misty smoke and dark boundaries. Mixed with the ecstasy of self release, a party vibrates with the energy of the people.

For the youth, parties are a form of self expression, an imitation of who they are and what they represent. It is this search and development of our youth that justifies the communal aspect of a party hall. It represents a meeting point within the city – a shell separating outside from inside where you are sheltered to be with your community. As you enter, you acknowledge your presence in relation to place which can be comforting as a transition from outside to inside. And as you are inside, you are allowed to explore, move, consume, and socialize in your own space in your own terms.

The objective of this project is to create a venue for expression, ecstasy and excitement. But on the other hand a responsible building which regulates itself with minimal intervention; visible and present. Architecture itself is not the experience, it is the catalyst for the experience – it mediates between discharge and expression, control and authority - a complex balance to achieve.

Regionale Technical Center - Kortrijk

Date: 2003
Client: Vrije Technisch Scholen vzw
Program: 430 m² + 130 m²
Team: Francis Catteeuw icw Lieven Dejaeghere


De naam RTC staat voor Regionaal Technisch Centrum en wordt gerund door Pro Mechatronica met als doel het slabakkend technologisch onderwijs in de regio Zuid-West Vlaanderen nieuw leven in te blazen.

De bouwopdracht hield in op een korte termijn (12 maanden tussen eerste contact en oplevering) een volwaardig project aft te leveren. Het bouwprogramma bestaat uit twee delen: een administratieve zone en een leslokaal met simulatie mogelijkheid, aangesloten op de roboticalijn.

Het ontwerp eigent zich een no-nonsense strategie toe. Een verouderd sanitair blok werd afgebroken en in de donkere speelplaatsoverkapping werd een grote sleuf gemaakt. Dit geeft een lange, luchtige vide. In deze vrijgekomen strook werd een geprefabriceerde houtskeletstructuur opgetrokken. Deze geeft plaats aan de administratieve zone. Ze overziet zowel de achterliggende fabriekshal, de speelplaats als de hemelkoepel.

Het gevraagde leslokaal werd in de aanpalende fabriekshal voorzien: zwevend opgehangen aan de dakconstructie en afgezoomd met gordijnen. Een rood tapijt markeert de leszone. De roboticalijn is als kroonjuweel overal zichtbaar. Het leslokaal is transparent en laat gedeeltelijk inkijk toe.

Tussen speelplaats, administratie, fabriekshal en leslokaal ontstaan hierdoor doorzichten, complementair aan de nieuwe inzichten die de school wil genereren.

Momenteel werken we aan een ontwerp voor een nieuwe overdekte speelplaats, met behoud van de bestaande "De Coene" spanten.

House Van Colen - Ruiselede

Date: 2008
Client: Mr. and Mrs. Van Colen - Vanryckegem
Program: 370 m²
Team: Francis Catteeuw icw Geert Pauwels


This is a house for the family Van Colen. It is located in Wingene, a typical West-Flemish country town. The building plot adjoins a spit of valuable agricultural land. The street forms the winter bed of this natural landscape and is therefore situated higher than the actual plot.
It is a typical Flemish reflex to elevate ones private parcel. The landscape towards the street is, in that way, reshaped into a chain of little artificial hills, each carrying a private dwelling.
The "Van Colen" house, however, deviates from this over-all principle because it is inserted onto the natural ground level, lower than the street. This attitude disassociates the house immediately from its neighbors and thus, the average way of building/ architectural stereotype in the Flemish countryside.

The living-area is situated on the first floor, the bedrooms are located on the ground floor with immediate access to the garden and fields. If you look at it from the street, most of the living takes place at a "bel-étage". A bridge/walkway connects the street and living area. Thanks to the principle of the "bel étage", the kitchen and living room have a panoramic view on the surrounding meadows.
An industrial ready-made steel structure was built in no time.
Under this stack, the homebuilder has organized his own housing, building the rooms brick by brick.
This way of working stretches the building-period for sure. However, we prefer the commitment of this homebuilder, which is intriguing to watch, rather than a "normal" building-process, regardless of the pure aesthetic consequences. The house is by definition never finished.