Vakwerk architecten had a simple dream, converting the former Ketelhuis, an old monument, into a co-working hub that could serve the city and the neighbourhood at different levels. A home for their office and other local entrepreneurs and a place that would be a source of energy and inspiration. The fundamentally different working method of Vakwerk architecten also proves that this can be done sustainably and with a great deal of circular construction.

The former turbine hall has been renamed as the Vakwerkhuis (dutch for a half-timbered house, a play on the architect’s name) and is now an innovative place to work together, a real ‘co-working space 2.0’. More than 100 workspaces are combined with 8 unique meeting rooms for use by the ‘residents’ and (frequent) visitors. You enter the building through the informal café, which is open to both guests and residents and connected to a big outdoor garden. During the day, the Vakwerkhuis is mainly used by companies. In the evenings and weekends, the building transforms into a venue for debates, parties, courses, or music and yoga classes.

The 100-year-old monument consists of multiple halls, which were once home to large machines and industrial boilers, as well as the iconic high chimney. Together the volumes create a functional yet unmistakably charming industrial complex. Carefully designed interventions amplify the unique characteristics of each part of the building. All additions can be divided into three main themes, each with their fitting details: A series of new expressive openings visually connect old and new parts and enlarge the transparency of the building; The interior is enriched with fixed elements, executed in industrial red steel and glass ore clad in lively solid oak wood to contrast the materials already present. Large elements are placed freely, such as the bar and the wooden Eagles Nest in respect to the impressive monumental architecture; The addition of the fully glazed entrance and new wooden extension and light concept visually marks this new era for the complex; the Ketelhuis is once again a vital part of the community and is here to stay!

Considering its age, the building had already proven itself as a sustainable element, yet there was still a lot to improve. Vakwerk architecten has continuously followed a design mindset that focused on functionally being defined by the form and size of each space. They focussed on finding the balance between necessary adjustments and keeping the existing architecture, using the quality that was already there. With a few clear interventions, such as new concrete floors with a heating and cooling system sourced from heat pumps, renewing all the wood window frames with double glazing and insulating the iconic roof structures, the climate of the building was lifted to today’s standards. Resulting in an all-electric monument!

The execution of the design was driven by circularity; using materials and objects that were already present in the building, or reusing them, like the wooden trusses in the wooden extension, from an old hangar. The wooden herringbone floors, beams, oak finishes and furniture come from leftover discarded lots and are circular and biobased in themselves.