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New business site called Industrial Building created by derksen | windt architecten with practicality and sustainability in mind

By Courtney Constable


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In an ever-changing and always developing business park area in the city of Rzenburg in The Netherlands, the need for a brand new, fully equipped business premises has been fulfilled by innovative designers at derksen | windt architecten, who recently completed the Industrial Building.

The first goal that the design team wanted to reach in creating this building was one of sustainability and low environmental impact, both immediately and long term. They also wanted to create something unique and striking in terms of style and aesthetic, which is why they chose to work with inspirations like rhythm when it came to designing shape and proportion.

The finished result was a modern take on traditional sawtooth roof buildings that are typical to the industrial area and its history, but this time with a much more open concept, locally sourced and repurposed materials, and a larger emphasis on on allowing natural sunlight to flow into the work spaces and fill the rooms.

Even just this use of light contributes both to making the building less impactful on its environment, as well as to making it slightly more modern in its functions despite some elements looking typical of old brick industrial warehouses. Not only does the easy flow of light reduce power use, it also lifts the spirits of anyone working or visiting there, unlike some old fashioned brick buildings where the interior feels dark, closed off, and not necessarily welcoming.

In the process of choosing their materiality, designers noted that many old industrial buildings look quite temporary thanks to their bare-bones materials and unfinished aesthetic, when in actual fact they’ll often stand and serve a pivotal function in a community for years. Thinking about this was how they opted to try and establish a slightly different appearance this time around.

The materiality of this new building is much the same; it is afforded a sense of strength and businesslike functionality thanks to the use of brick, steel, and concrete. Designers made sure, however, to give the space a slightly more finished looking… well… finish! The space is minimalist and practical but it doesn’t like ramshackle and thrown together like it might soon be torn down.

Because the building is part of a small-scale business park that isn’t far from the Rotterdam ports, it’s a great potential location for all kinds of businesses. That’s why the next step of the project, following what you already see here, is to split the sprawling, open concept space into four different business units to create a functional but free flowing business park.

The fact that the space will eventually be shared by several businesses within one very open and naturally lit space, but that it also still resembles a traditional factory on the outside, creates a unique blending of several things. Not only are aesthetics between interior and exterior spaces contrasting, but the sense of modern business routine and old fashioned factory work brings new and old, contemporary and historical together. It’s a stylistic and cultural combination.

Of course, the sawtooth shape of the building does more than just hearken back to times past and reference older styles of architecture. In this particular building, the translucent tiles built into it are also an integral part of the green heating, cooling, and lighting systems. This is another specific point where history, style, function, and modernity all cross over.

Another more contemporary element that certainly wouldn’t have been found in brick industrial buildings of auld but that proves extremely useful in this building is the presence of several skylights and in-line window frames, as well as rolling doors. These appear to break down visual and occasionally physical barriers between indoor and outdoor spaces, making the building feel expansive and accessible.

There might not be much to say about decor yet, before the separation into business units and settling in of company teams has occurred, but the facade adds some rhythm and depth to the space and establishes a colour scheme. Masonry skill is clear in the brick surfaces while translucent triangle portions balance out that neutrality and natural materiality with modern geometry.

Photos by Rene de Wit

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About Courtney Constable

Courtney has over five years experience as a writer, editor and consultant who specializes in architecture and home interiors. She has contributed content to HomeDSGN since 2018 and her work has also appeared on MyDomaine, Archilovers and Apartment Therapy. Learn more about HomeDSGN's Editorial Process.

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