Mediahuis Hasselt

A passion for journalism

New furniture takes well-being to the next level


It isn’t easy to replace an iconic building. And yet, Mediahuis did just that for the editorial department of Het Belang van Limburg. The new office building is much better attuned to how things work at today’s editorial offices. With respect for the environment and employees alike. In collaboration with Pami, an interior was created with ergonomics as a top priority. 


Finding synergy


Mediahuis is a joint venture between Corelio and Concentra. The two media companies first found each other in the context of printing newspapers. Corelio in Groot-Bijgaarden was suffering from insufficient capacity and outdated printing machinery. This led to their first collaboration. “The synergy was clear from the start and opened the door to intensify the collaboration as publishers as well”, according to Jos Aerts, Facility Manager. Today, Mediahuis houses four newspaper titles: Het Nieuwsblad, De Standaard, Gazet van Antwerpen and Het Belang van Limburg. In addition to the Belgian market, Mediahuis has now managed to carve out a strong position in the Netherlands (e.g. Telegraaf and NRC Handelsblad) and Ireland (e.g. Irish Independent) as well. The reason for scaling up is clear. “Printed media are losing ground year after year. Single sales are hit the hardest”, said Aerts. “By building a digital newspaper and including it in our subscription formulas, a status quo could be achieved. With a single platform, we are able to build a digital newspaper for various titles. Plus, the shared back-office brings about cost benefits.”


Optimal use of space


Mediahuis’ different editorial offices are housed at one of the three locations in Belgium. The headquarters are located in an impressive office building at Linkeroever in Antwerp. Then there is a branch in Groot-Bijgaarden (will close next year) and Hasselt. Mediahuis’ Hasselt office is located at Herkenrodesingel where the iconic building of Het Belang van Limburg dominated the skyline for years. “The old building could no longer meet modern requirements when it comes to energy efficiency and user-friendliness”, Aerts explained. “Plus, we no longer needed to house all functions of bygone days there, such as the commercial printer. A renovation would therefore never allow us to optimally use the space available.” This is why it was sold to a real estate developer. A new office building was built for Mediahuis just a few metres down the road. Aerts: “The building had to exude our identity, stimulate collaboration and offer all possible technical gadgets to work as efficiently as possible. With an e-level of E35, the standard for 2022, our concept is certainly future-proof."


Three types of workstations


A new building, a new interior. Or was a circular interior on the table? “We carefully weighed all the pros and cons. Our existing furniture was already second or even third hand and it was a mishmash of all kinds of materials and colours. Plus, disassembling, moving and reassembling furniture involves costs as well. In the end, the decisive factor was that we wanted to embrace a different way of working”, said Aerts. A concept was created in collaboration with Procos that involved three types of workstations: fixed stations, flexible stations and so-called fly-ins. “We wanted to ensure that people who need to be here every day, such as the accounting department, wouldn’t have to worry about where to take a seat in the morning. The flexible workstations look almost the same apart from their colour accent. These workstations are subject to our clean desk policy and are a perfect option for those who alternate between Antwerp and Hasselt. And then we have tables and chairs for our so-called fly-ins, people who are here just a couple of hours a day.”


A wealth of options to create a warm interior


Mediahuis issued a tender for office interior suppliers which was won by Pami. They provided the best answer to the specifications drawn up by Procos. “A decision we still wholeheartedly support, because we wanted to give the procurement a regional character to match the presence of Het Belang van Limburg.” Contrary to the corporate look & feel of the headquarters in Antwerp, the interior at the office in Hasselt had to exude warmth. “The only thing missing is a fireplace”, said Aerts with a wink. “Pami offered us a wealth of options to create that sense of warmth. In addition, we are able to offer our employees different atmospheres depending on the type of use. Is it a communal workspace? Intended for meetings? Or to focus on an individual task? Every space received an appropriate interior.”


Ergonomics as a decisive element


Ergonomics was the key element in the choice of furniture. “We wanted height-adjustable desks to allow our employees to alternate between standing and sitting. The effects of ergonomics take a long time to manifest themselves, but it is very important to Mediahuis that our people have the right infrastructure to improve their well-being.” In that regard, Aerts is very pleased with Pami's input. “Based on their recommendation, we installed sit-stand tables in several conference rooms as well. Our people love it; the dual function is very popular especially at the editorial office.” Pami supplied a total of 723 chairs and 250 desks. The collaboration was very satisfactory. “Our schedule was extremely tight and everyone had to shift up a gear for delivery. This did not inhibit Pami to the slightest. On the contrary. Everything proceeded as agreed”, recounted Aerts with a content look.


Using workstations as intended


The transition to the new office was well received. Aerts is happy with the result. “The flexibility in terms of workstations and the broad spectrum of atmospheres was met with optimism. The spaces and furniture are all being used as intended. In the past, everyone wanted to work at the Antwerp office. Not anymore. The office has become as busy as it is cosy because everyone wants to conduct their appointments here.” By the way, a piece of the iconic old building was incorporated into the new office. The beloved trees unfortunately had to make way for the new building, but we managed to process them into furniture for the large entry hall. “The new office was made with our employees and the environment in mind as well as with respect for our heritage”, concluded Aerts. 

Project photos