When the municipality of Alkmaar in The Netherlands needed a new fire station, they had a lot of specific criteria that needed to be met. First the facility had to achieve a high level of energy efficiency and sustainability. They also needed the NBHW fire station to have facilities for a care center for addicts and meet many strict town planning conditions. As a result the facility, designed by LIAG, conforms to the site along the North Holland Canal with a rooftop parking deck to place cars out of sight. The parking deck is also used to collect solar energy for the underground thermal energy storage system to minimize electricity use.
The slender building volume runs north and south away from the city council buildings up to a height of 20 meters, acting as an entrance to the city centre. A ramp on the canal side of the building provides access to the innovative parking lot, which collects solar energy. Painted green to avoid overheating, the parking lot is like a giant radiant floor, but works to collect solar energy rather than release it. This heat is transferred down to the underground thermal energy storage (UTES) to provide 80% of its heating and cooling for the facility and the adjoining city council offices. In March 2011, the building received an honorable mention from the European Architecture Award 2011 Architecture + Energy, which recognizes buildings with innovative energy concepts.
Overall, the station achieved a higher energy rating than the city required for new construction and also made a concerted effort to include materials that had a lower impact in manufacturing, recycling, and reuse. The materials had to fit within the vision of ‘Cradle-to-Cradle’ building. The facility also makes use of rainwater recycling, extra high insulation, compact building and multi-use spaces. An art installation by the name of Northern Lights, by Paul Baartmans, makes use of the reflective and metallic surface of the building to project colorful LED lights resulting in a playful and mysterious effect.
Images ©Bernard Faber, Wilm Daneels, Paul Baartmans and LIAG