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Interview with

“ goes all in on sustainable innovation.”

Marc Bernaerts, CEO Vanhout PRO

Whereas the construction sector is traditionally rather conservative, resolutely plays the card of progress. The project portfolio (including clients VITO, IOK and LIFE) of this Turnhout-based construction and interior design company underline this. But they are also working on sustainable innovation in their own way. We sat down with CEO Marc Bernaerts to find out more.

Marc Bernaerts

Mister Bernaerts, can you briefly outline

‘It is our mission to improve people’s lives by creating sustainable and liveable environments where people like to live, work, play sports and learn. In our company, we combine craftsmanship and quality with a thorough technical knowledge and strong organisational skills. Thanks to our many years of experience, we can carry out all kinds of assignments, both small and large, construction and interior projects. The people at are particularly keen on challenges. This reputation makes us well-known and sought-after, and in recent years we have also expanded beyond the Kempen region.’

Do you have a kind of trademark?

‘The baseline “Building with people” is not just an empty slogan for us. The philosophy is actually put into practice. In the first place by listening to the customers, showing empathy for their wishes and their individuality. The steep growth that our organisation has experienced in recent years could only be realised through the enthusiasm of our people. There is a kind of dynamic that makes us want to push boundaries together.

By constantly taking on new challenges, we are increasingly able to unburden our customers. We like to seek out difficult projects, rather than avoiding them. Last year, for example, we built the new Comics Station theme and experience park in Antwerp Central Station. Constructing this 28-metre-high building inside the existing station building, and literally between the train tracks, was a technical and organisational feat. Also the futuristic research building for Histogenex and the meeting centre in Kasterlee is something we’re happy to call our work.’

Are you also concerned with sustainability?

‘Yes, the construction sector is a large consumer of materials and energy. We’re therefore committed to taking our responsibility. We enjoy working on projects that increase sustainability locally. For example, we are helping to build the first geothermal power plant for heat and electricity in the Benelux, commissioned by VITO. And for the Intercommunal Development Company for the Kempen (IOK), we are building a new transfer station for household waste in Beerse.’

“We are proud to be able to contribute to sustainable environmental management in the Kempen. After all, the quality of life in our region is very important to us.”

Do you also innovate yourselves?

‘Our commitment goes beyond previous named projects. Recently we joined forces with an Antwerp start-up. Together with, Bao Living wants to produce more ecological and cheaper furnishings for small flats. Together, we developed “SAM”, the Smart Adaptive Module. This is a prefabricated central module that contains all utility rooms and associated fixed furniture and can be placed in any room.’

‘Each SAM unit contains a kitchen and a bathroom and is equipped with all appliances for heating, ventilation, electricity, water and home automation. By building these rooms in a maximum of 3 days while integrating all utilities, you reduce the cost by at least 30% while drastically reducing the risk of technical errors.’

You are also working on the renovation of the Hungaria building in Leuven. Will you be using SAM units there as well?

‘We are very happy to be able to collaborate on that project. At, we have a long tradition of building landmarks. About half of all Flemish water towers were built by Groep Van Roey. The iconic Hungaria building certainly fits the bill. Our interior department is also closely involved in the project. They helped design the compact concept furniture for the studios, which allows for optimal use of the living space. The technology of the SAM units will certainly provide the necessary inspiration here.’

Thank you for this conversation and make something beautiful out of it in Leuven!

‘Don’t worry, we will make something that all parties will be proud of.’

Written by
Veerle Symoens

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