In recent years, UNStudio – which has been internationally recognized for its approach to developing dynamic forms – has also grown to focus on sustainability with the intent to decrease C02 emissions. With this in mind, the firm, with consortium DUO², has realized one of the most sustainable large office buildings in Europe for two governmental offices, the Education Executive Agency and the Tax Offices. “The design contains numerous new innovations related to the reduction of materials, lower energy costs and more sustainable working environments. It presents a fully integrated, intelligent design approach towards sustainability,” explained Ben van Berkel. More images and more about the project after the break.
Measuring 92 meters tall, the Groningen tower is outfitted with soft, undulating curves as a way to replace the traditional stoic and commanding presence of institutional buildings with a more “friendly and more future-orientated” approach. In addition to creating a new personality for the exterior, the façade also integrates shading, wind control, and daylight penetration with its fin-shaped elements. These horizontal fins keep a large amount of the heat outside the building, reducing the requirement for cooling.
Functionally, the building accommodates 2,500 workstations, parking facilities for 1,500 bicycles and 675 cars in an underground garage, while being surrounded by a large public city garden with pond and a multifunctional pavilion with commercial functions. ”We paid a great deal of attention to how people would move through the building. The office spaces are designed in such a way that they do not create simple linear corridors leading to dead ends, but instead each corridor has a route which introduces a kind of landscape into the building. You can take endless walks through the building, where there is a great deal of transparency, also towards the surrounding landscape,” stated Ben van Berkel.
By lowering the floor heights , the impact of the building is reduced by 7.5 meters, lessening the impact of the building on the surroundings. On the 11th floor, a high pressure ventilation system with natural air inflow and outflow via main engineering shafts and the facade grills reduces the need for artificial ventilation. In addition, a concrete core activation and underground long term energy storage reduces the demand for external energy sources. In the future, it is intended for the residual energy of the data center and offices to be used to heat the homes that will be realized on the perimeter of the site.
An interesting idea to note it that the building is designed so that it can be transformed into housing without major structural modifications. Therefore, the locations of elevators, stairs and technical spaces have been carefully considered, and a structural grid of 1.20 m. has been deployed, rather than the conventional office grid of 1.80 m.
The design carries with it a strong opinion of aesthetics in addition to a diverse sampling of passive and active environmental and energy efficient solutions, leading it to be one of the most sustainable office buildings in the Netherlands.