Municipal office Venlo

Municipal office Venlo

Venlo, Netherlands
Project Year
Stories By

Ronald Tilleman

Municipal office Venlo

Kraaijvanger as Architects

The design of the municipal offices in Venlo was inspired by the ‘cradle to cradle’ principle. The result is a healthy working environment, combined with sustainable innovation. All the raw materials and parts used have a ‘passport’, detailing their production and origin. The building is therefore in essence a huge raw-materials databank. When a service or product reaches the end of its useful life, these materials can easily be retrieved for high-grade reuse.

The building’s most striking feature is its ‘green’ northern façade. More than 100 different plants in the façade contribute to biodiversity and help to create a clean and healthy environment. Covering 2,000m², it is the largest ‘living’ façade in the world. It absorbs 30% of the sulphur and nitrogen oxides from the air, offsetting the emissions of particulate matter generated by 3,000m2 of motorway.

The greenhouse on the top three floors of the tower is also remarkable. The heat it absorbs provides natural heating for the building. Combined with the green façade, the solar chimney on the roof, and heat storage in the soil, it provides energy-efficient climate control. Inside the greenhouse, a spectacular central wooden staircase encourages exercise, contributing to the health of employees and visitors. Concept Phase The brief presented a unique challenge in the form of stringent sustainability requirements set by Venlo municipality, which is the first region in the world to attempt full implementation of the Cradle-to-Cradle principles. The result was a unique design process and an extraordinary (vision)building that combines a comfortable working environment with sustainable innovation. It also incorporates several strategies to guarantee sustainability: the heavily polluted air from the adjacent road is purified by the building and cooled down with the help of the River Maas and the underground car park; the offices and (glasshouses)hothouses generate heat for the (connected) homes; rain water is collected and used, then purified and released into the Maas; the construction uses mainly wood.

From circular vision to tangible municipal office

Kawneer as Manufacturers

Not just for appearances, the green facade of the Municipal Office Venlo meets the demands of Cradle-to-Cradle and offers a purifying, smog reducing function. At 2,000 m2 it features over 100 different plants which contribute to biodiversity and a cleaner environment.

Alongisde this, facade constructor P. Van Hoesel has installed an aluminium facade and curtain wall from Kawneer. The facade AA 9562 and crtain wall AA 100 Q HI+ from Kawneer also adhere to Cradle-to-Cradle standards. The advantage of aluminium products such is this is unlimited recyclablity, non-tox properties, and low maintenance. 

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The municipality of Venlo commissioned the design of their new 27.700 m2 municipal office to the Rotterdam based architectural firm Kraaijvanger. The team of Kraaijvanger Architects took the Cradle to Cradle philosophy as a starting point to design a comfortable and healthy work environment, combined with sustainable innovation. The construction of the municipal office is futureproof and the facilities of the office are independent from the building, so that the building can be transformed easily for future use and a new destination for the building does not result into a problem. Also, all systems are replaceable without major interventions, which leaves room for developments in terms of sustainability.

The office, which was opened in October 2016, stands out because of its eye-catching architecture, but especially because of her green and sustainable character. By designing following the Cradle to Cradle principle, it is assumed that waste does not exist, but serves as fuel for new products. The appearance of the building reflects this mindset and shows the ambitions of the municipality. The building consists of office space, a plaza, a public hall with exhibition space, meeting rooms, a parking garage and a bicycle storage. This combines all the different services that were spread over Venlo before into a beautiful, new building.

Healthy indoor climate The building also serves the health of its inhabitants, reflected by a greenhouse with greenery and greenery in the building for a healthy indoor climate. The exterior and interior design comes from architect Hans Goverde, of Kraaijvangers Architects. Aside from the Cradle to Cradle principles, they had to take more things into account, like the location and environmental factors. For example, the urban situation on that location was one of the conditions. With the city bridge, a busy road and a railroad on one side, the environment comes with quite some traffic noise and pollution. The Nedinsco-complex in Bauhaus-style, and in the extension thereof, a few residential towers are on the other side.

Not yet completed The position and location of the municipal office offered a few limitations for the construction, says Richard Nederlands, project leader at LAUDY Bouw en Ontwikkeling, contractor of the project. Because of the position between four roads and the lack of storage space most materials were delivered just-in-time. But, concludes Nederlands, eventually the satisfaction prevails that we realized an extraordinary and appealing building with this new municipal office. However, the building is not finished: ‘it is engineered in such a way that, with alternatives that better suit the Cradle to Cradle principle, former solutions can be replaced.

Purifying green façade A prominent part of municipal office Venlo are the green facades. They do not only have an esthetic function; they also meet the demands of Cradle to Cradle and have a purifying and smog reducing function. With 2.000 m2, it is the biggest green façade in the world with over 100 different plants that contribute to biodiversity and a cleaner environment. The façade removes 30% of the sulfur and nitrogen oxides from the outside air and compensates the particulate matter emissions from 3.000 m2 of expressway. The façade also purifies the air coming out of the building. Through the façade system the polluted air is blown outside, where the plants in the façade clean the air.

Self-sufficient in energy need Another aspect that contributes to the Cradle to Cradle principle is that the municipal office generates its own energy. With the help of warmth-cold-storage, pv panels, solar water heaters and energy-efficient measures the building is self-sufficient in terms of energy need. The municipality of Venlo is actively working on mapping the social value the building generates by offering her employees a comfortable, light and natural work environment. Only by reducing the absenteeism with 1%, the municipality saves 480.000 euros a year. And that does not even include the raise in productivity because of the great work environment.

AR 90 program from Kawneer Façade constructor P. Van Hoesel has installed an aluminum facade and curtain wall from Kawneer in the municipal office. The façade AA 9562 and the curtain wall AA 100 Q HI+ from Kawneer are both applicable in the Cradle to Cradle principle of the municipal office with the AR 90 program. The advantage of aluminum products is that they have a lot of environmental friendly characteristics: the material is unlimitedly recyclable, not toxic, very low in maintenance and exceptionally sustainable because of that. Kawneer’s AR 90 program gives you the possibility to contribute to a maximum amount of recycled aluminum in the construction chain.

With the AR 90 program Kawneer guarantees that 90% of recycled aluminum is purchased based on the amount of applied aluminum in the specific project that uses the AR 90 program. Kawneer guarantees that that amount of aluminum ends up in the construction chain. This way efficient, intelligent and sustainable building is possible, which reflects the principle of Cradle to Cradle. Finally, Kawneer designed her products in such a way that they are easy to disassemble and can be melted down for future applications at the end of their lifecycle.

A light and natural work environment Kawneer’s products contribute to transparency, comfort and daylighting, which makes it possible for the municipality of Venlo to map the social value of the building. That daylighting is important shows the rapport of the World Green Building Council, ‘Health, Wellbeing & Productivity in Offices – The next chapter for green building’ from 2014. This rapport states, among other things, that good daylighting is crucial for the satisfaction of the inhabitants/users. Different studies in the last decade estimate a raise in productivity as a direct result of the proximity to windows.

Also, office employees with windows receive approximately 173% more white light and sleep an average of 46 minutes per night more, compared to office employees without access to windows. Finally, a groundbreaking study of 20 years ago showed that employees with windows and a view of nature were less frustrated and more patient. They also reported better health than the ones without a view of nature or with a view of only constructed elements. Several studies since have drawn comparable conclusions.

Bigger glass surfaces and a unique range in glazing for more daylighting So, the fact that a light office with a view is a must seems obvious. But how did the products from Kawneer contribute to this? High-end curtain wall system AA 100 Q HI+ offers the possibility to apply bigger glass surfaces, allowing more daylight. The product has a unique range in glazing from 6 up to 50 mm. Also, it enables high glass weights up to 700 kg with the special insulated glass support. Because of the combination of high glass weights and maximum glazing thickness, triple glass with lower U values can be applied, for example. The maximum glass weight of 700 kg also enables bigger surfaces of glass, which benefits the transparency.

The AA 100 Q HI+ is the first curtain wall system with a phA+ Passive house certification with a U value of 0,81 W/m2K. In addition, because of the modular build the AA 100 Q HI+ can be combined with the other Kawneer products. Advantages of the in Venlo applied AA 9562 are the big design freedom, prefabrication, high product quality, assembly without scaffolding, just-in-time delivery and minimal storage on the construction site. Ideal for the situation of municipal office Venlo’s.

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