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Ex-Cons Transform a Factory Into a Dazzling Recycled Office [Slideshow]

Holland-based Doepel Strijkers Architects has unveiled a striking new office building in Rotterdam. We’re not sure what’s more interesting about it: the fact that it was designed to astonishingly exacting environmental standards or that it was built by folks who’ve done time in the pokey.

The HAKA Building is a pre-war factory that Doepel Strijkers is converting into a “clean tech living lab” for eco-friendly water and energy organizations. The project is an experiment of sorts in how socially and environmentally minded architecture can benefit the region. The ultimate goal: A wasteless building.

So to cut back on energy and transportation costs, the architects sourced all their materials locally, either second-hand or from demolition sites. You’ve got seating made from the wood of abandoned post-war housing; a meeting room fashioned entirely out of recycled doors; and an acoustic wall created with a whopping 17,700-pound pile of old clothes. A team of (supervised) ex-cons threw it all together.

Developed in partnership with public and private groups, the HAKA building is based on a circular economic model — the idea that everything, from labor to materials, is sourced locally, resulting in bigger payoffs for the city, both from an environmental and a financial standpoint. As a result, the whole process is being meticulously documented and measured right down to the man hours it takes to turn board doors into benches (32). The hope is that the data will inform a broader redevelopment scheme in the area, one that gives sustainability pride of place.

[Images courtesy of Doepel Strijkers Architects; hat tip to Frame magazine]

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