The Venlo region is the world’s first to fully embraced the principles of cradle to cradle, not only did they set this goal for themselves - all products and materials, at all levels of operation, must be 100% reusable and environmentally friendly in production, use and re-use - they also actively attract companies and entrepreneurs with these ambitions. It is therefore logical that when the need for new municipal offices arose Venlo commissioned this project to be cradle to cradle.
The design phase between August 2009 and July 2011 needed a unique approach to reach the highest sustainability and cradle to cradle standards. Contractors and suppliers where consulted in earlier phases than common for many of the desired standards could not yet be attained at the start. Suppliers where invited early so they could get their cradle to cradle certification in time, contractors gave their input in an early stage on feasibility and possibility regarding circular construction practices. Construction started in 2012 and finished in 2016.
The tangible 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 currently is the largest ‘living’ façade in the world. It absorbs 30% of the sulphur and nitrogen oxides from the air, while also offsetting the emissions of particulate matter generated by 3,000m2 of motorway.
The greenhouse on the top three floors of the tower is another remarkable sight. Located on the southwestern side collect a lot of warmth from the sun, thus providing a natural preheating for the building. Combined with the green façade, the solar chimney on the roof, and heat storage in the soil, the natural climate control is both energy-efficient and pleasant. The eye-catching core of stairs and voids form the central link between floors, being a place of interaction and inviting physical activity the core is also designed to allow for a natural airflow and decreases the need for mechanical ventilation.
The open and uncluttered public hall on the ground floor houses the municipal service desks, while office floors in the tower above focus on a healthy working environment, with a wide variety of individual and adaptable workspaces. Daylight is let in as deep as possible thus minimizing energy consumption.
Everything in the building is designed with circularity in mind. Where daylight is not adequate LED is used. The water cycle is aimed at minimal wastage, rain and water from sinks is purified by a constructed wetland roof for watering the green facade and flushing toilets.
City Hall Venlo is a tangible proof of a sustainable vision. All suppliers are cradle to cradle certified, sometimes along the way. Thanks to material passports all products used are catalogued and at the end of their life in the City Hall suppliers take their products back for high-grade re-use. The construction is future-proof; the interior is built independently of the supporting structure and thus leaves a possible change of function a future option. While at the time of designing, concrete was the only viable option for a structure of this size, it was not available with cradle to cradle certification. The solution was to use 60 – 70% recycled concrete granulate. On a smaller scale, there is room for unforeseen developments in the field of sustainability, all building-related systems can be replaced without major interventions.
Kraaijvanger Architects has designed for the future since its founding in 1927, always looking forward and reinventing itself. Today Kraaijvanger specialises in complex and sustainable projects in a metropolitan context. With over half of the world’s population living in cities, urban density is a pressure cooker for innovation and prosperity, it provides opportunities for efficient resource use. That’s why Kraaijvanger aims to create a healthier world with attractive and enjoyable living environments; where cities are ecosystems, with buildings that live and breathe, buildings that are continually being reborn.
The best example of this vision is the City Hall Venlo that improves the health of both its surroundings and users. A circular design by Hans Goverde, architect at Kraaijvanger since 1995 and partner since 2002. He focuses on complex urban assignments, multi-functional buildings and integrated design.
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