The Leeuwarden Energy Knowledge Centre was built on a former landfill site in the Netherlands. The building designed by Achterbosch Architecten relies on a limited palette of materials and is characterised by adjustable foundations due to the inherent ground conditions – building on a landfill site.
The Schenkenschans landfill, which was closed in 1998, was a storage site for construction and demolition waste. In order to prevent emissions via air and water, the site was treated and sealed with foils. Although a difficult site to build on, its reuse potential was taken up by Achterbosch Architecten.
The new building’s floor area of around 800 m² was realised in lightweight construction and elevated off the ground using 108 hot dip galvanized steel supports. The supports stand on small concrete slabs that sit on a layer of sand. Due to expected settling, the steel supports are adjustable while the elevation allows the building to float above the ground, giving it lightness.
For both the architects and the client, the idea of circular construction was an important consideration when planning the building. Aspects such as durability, dismantling and reusability were of central importance from a construction point of view and also in the selection of materials. The decision to use hot dip galvanized steel and certified wood of local origin are examples of this approach. Wherever possible, recycled or used materials were selected. An old gym floor was reused for flooring; recycled PET bottles were used as acoustic materials and reused office furniture was part of the interior fit-out.
With regard to the practical implementation, says Bart Cilissen, project manager at Achterbosch Architecten:
“The main principle was: Use logical thinking and don‘t get stuck in the quagmire of sustainability certificates. The focus was on the right choice of building materials and their application. You could describe it as circularity. As architects, we try to think as circularly as possible for every project. In the design phase, the reuse of building materials must be considered. If the building is dismantled at some point, the entire steel structure can be unscrewed and reused.
For me this is the future, as an architect, you will soon have a certain amount of material with which you have to build a building. I almost see a building as a storage place for materials. When the building has reached its end of life, unscrew everything and you can reuse the materials in their original form. The less you have to recycle, the better, because recycling uses energy again.“