‘Oever’ is Dutch for shore or bank. The concrete kind. This new art gallery is located in the East Bank harbor area of Ostend, the only genuine city on the Belgian coast. Popularly called ‘Bruxelles plage’, it was historically linked to the capital of Belgium. The beau monde of Brussels loved traveling there for a seaside getaway. Today you still feel the faded glory of what once was a rich city. The city is a haven for creatives and even has its own street art festival. A fitting location for a contemporary art gallery with its own in-house coffee shop and store concept.
The founders of Oever gave 5AM design studio carte blanche for the spatial design. The strong link with graffiti, street, and urban art formed the basis for the interior concept. The challenge consisted in keeping the gallery space for creative experiment, inspiring a new generation of artists on the one hand, but also radiating inviting energy for curious passers-by wandering inside for a coffee or a book.
5AM decided to flip things around and recreated the typical street artist’s canvas, the concrete jungle, in a minimal, stripped-down version inside the gallery. The monochrome gray palette refers to the city’s hero color and roughness. Contrasting smooth and rough city textures are altered. Urban art often functions as cultural commentary, regularly infused with bold shapes and colors, pop-art inspiration, and recognizable cartoon characters, combined with a signature streak of sobering humor. Leave it to 5AM to integrate these elements in a subtle yet undeniable way.
The overall use of gray highlights the pure and calming function of the space. The material mix of raw concrete, rough stucco, mirror, brushed aluminum, and high-gloss bold-shaped display objects offers contrast and guidance in a subtle way. Oever has personality but doesn’t steal the thunder of the artists on display. A hint of signature color was added by the use of aquamarine blue in the toilet and in the iconic Moustache Bold chairs.
The open-plan space can be divided into different zones by using a smart freestanding system that offers full flexibility and can easily be assembled or expanded whenever and wherever without the need for tools. Display elements and backgrounds in different sizes and colors can be added accordingly. “We created zones by using a flexible system and focal points that serve each activity individually. The overall gray shell and textured material mix provide a full experience. Functionality can and should be beautiful.” states 5AM designer Amber Feijen. The opening exhibition consists of five contemporary pop-art artists: Ju Schnee, Yam Shalev, Soichi Yamaguchi, Maria Imaginario, and Marcela Florido.
Architects: 5AM; Area : 150 m²; Year : 2022; Photographs :Skinn Branding Agency; Manufacturers : Asona, HAY, Magis, Sixinch, Alu, Carro Floor, Exterus, Moobi, Moustache, Publima; Interior Design : 5AM; Wall Finishes : Alleman Construct;