Rijkswaterstaat, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, recently completed construction on a swanky new sustainable office building set along the highway in Assen, The Netherlands. The bureau, which is responsible for the execution of public works and water management, wanted their new district offices to be a physical representation of their work, so they enlisted 24H Architecture to help them express their commitment to the environment. The resulting building showcases the common materials utilized by the bureau - the south face is made from concrete and asphalt slap, while the north side is lightweight, wooden and airy, and a green roof terrace tops off the building.
The project aimed to encapsulate the identity of Rijkswaterstaat in a sustainable building that manifests the organization’s core activities. The Dutch public works bureau is responsible for the roads, the waterways and the landscape, so each of these areas is distinctly represented. The south facade of the building is a mass of concrete and asphalt cut with horizontal openings. This solid wall is designed to block the sun’s heat and the noise from the adjacent highway (which they ironically constructed). Designed with grooves and patterns, the south facade is an abstract representation of a highway. Over time, rainwater from the roof, which is directed over the facade, will encourage growth of moss and plants, making the facade less stark.
At the north end the building features a light wooden construction, which allows for flexibility, openness and more daylighting. Wavy wooden beams recall the path of water and large windows open the space up. Up on the roof, a glass box surrounds a living wall and a green roof terrace provides a place to gather.
Inside, the office is constructed with prefabricated wall, ceiling and floor panels (with integrated conduits for utilities), which helped speed the construction process along. The wooden floor also serves as a ceiling, which saves on materials, and a Climalevel system provides fresh air for the offices. The office also makes use of thermal energy storage, roof-mounted solar panels, and FSC-certified wood. In the end, the district offices achieved a class A level in the GreenCalc rating system and could be classified with a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating.
Images ©Christian Richters