Preview: City Hall Venlo
How it started
Venlo decided in 2007 to build their city hall as a shining example of Cradle to Cradle design to residents and businesses. The creation of a pleasant and healthy workplace for employees of the municipality of Venlo has been the central theme: a building that will create a comfortable and healthy working environment, combined with sustainable innovation. The new city hall will be an icon at the river Meuse that proudly refers to the agriculture and logistics traditions of the city of Venlo. It is a building, which exudes what the municipal organisation wants to be: open, transparent and accessible.
The programme of requirements consists of a 3-layer public parking garage with 400 parking lots and a total office floor space of 13,500m2. The capital costs are estimated at 62 million euros, additionally with the highest possible application level of Cradle to Cradle within the fixed budget. The design and realisation of the city hall is planned within 5 years, with the realization in 2015. The starting points, together with the Cradle to Cradle ambition, are translated in the programme of requirements. The programme of requirements is the blueprint for the design and construction of the building. Venlo City Hall is one of the first and few building developments within the Netherlands with defined Cradle to Cradle ambitions.
Selection of the design team
The programme of requirements was the basis for the European architectural tender procedure. Venlo chose another order than normally is followed during a tender. Usually, a client asks for a design. In contrast, Venlo asked architects to present their vision on the assignment, with special attention to Cradle to Cradle.
The five best visions that met the requirements were invited to a kick-off meeting with trailblazers (‘frontrunners’) in the field of Cradle to Cradle. In addition to the co-founder of Cradle to Cradle (Prof. Dr. Braungart and McDonough+Partners), these trailblazers inspired and challenged the five remaining architects to translate the C2C principles to their final vision. After the kick-off meeting, these five remaining architectural firms got two weeks to complete their final vision on the assignment for the design of Venlo City Hall. After that, the commission assessed the submitted visions based on the selection criteria.
Out of more than 50 candidates, the project has been awarded Kraaijvanger Architects. The important elements of the vision were (1) a living green facade that cleans the indoor and outdoor air of the building, (2) the use of appropriate materials which can be recycled after they have been used and (3) the generation of more renewable energy by the building than the building will use.
Because the advisors, such as building manager and installation advisor, were selected based on their vision on Cradle to Cradle, the design team started with the right mindset on Cradle to Cradle design. After all advisors were selected the design process took off in spring 2009.
The design team started the preliminary design phase with a pressure cooking session (design studio) and workshops which lasted a week. The pressure cooking initiated the integral design process, in which the different disciplines strengthened, rather than hampered, each other. Besides the general project team meetings, all the different stakeholders within the design team came together every month to monitor the continuity and synergy between the disciplines. The meetings were used to examine what the contribution of the market could be to realize the city of Venlo’s requirements and ambitions for this building. These market consultations have also been used to encourage the producers in the building industry to innovative product development, based on the Cradle to Cradle approach.
During the design process, the translation of the Cradle to Cradle philosophy proved to be a challenge. To put extra emphasis on the Cradle to Cradle-ambitions, the largest part of the design team decided to follow a Cradle to Cradle training. Prof. Dr. Michael Braungart’s institute organized and facilitated a 4-day during training. The training did not only encourage the design team, but also made clear that focus should be made in the project.
Because it is not yet possible to realize a 100% Cradle to Cradle building, a focus on a specific number of aspects becomes crucial. In the case of Venlo City Hall, four aspects in which the Cradle to Cradle ambitions are reflected were selected.
First, how can the building enhance indoor and outdoor air quality, and use climate change gases to enhance air quality?
Second, how can the building and its site produce more renewable energy that the building will use? Third, how can applied materials be appropriate for a biological or technological cycle, without the loss of quality? And finally, how can the building improve water quality, so the water becomes healthy for biological metabolisms?
As mentioned, Venlo deems Cradle to Cradle an economic principle. Focussed on the four aforementioned selected aspects, the project team started to examine what the economic added value of sustainable innovation and Cradle to Cradle solutions might be. Various potential solutions that could help to achieve the defined goals, were assessed based on investment, operational costs and total cost of ownership. In the end the bundle of solutions that would contribute to the achievement of the outlined goals, as well as save and earn money during the defined use time of the building, were translated into business cases. Compared to a traditional situation/case, the business cases indicated that an additional investment of 3,4 million euros, will bring a net result of 16,9 million euros after the defined use time of 40 years, with a return on investment of 11,5%. A safe and earn matrix proved that investments in Cradle to Cradle elements are profitable. Even after year 1, the exploitation costs are lower in the C2C business case, compared to a situation without the Cradle to Cradle elements. In time of an economic crisis, the municipality should decrease their budgets with 40 million euro. Instead of cutting the budget of city hall, the abovementioned business case was presented to the council. Where they expected substantial savings, the project team asked for an additional investment, rather than cutting in the fixed budget. With the well-founded calculation of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), the council anonymously agreed with the proposed save and earning matrix.
Facts and Figures:
13,500 m2 of floor area;
2,000 m2 of office space in the Nedinsco;
approximately 630 workstations (flex-factor 75%);
3-story public parking garage with approximately 400 parkingspaces;
2,026 m2 green facade;
total cost: 46 million.
The project is still under construction and will be completed mid-2015, the following benefits will be realized:
• Positive business case of 16,8 million euro’s in 40 years and a return on investment of 11,5% ;
• The building will purify the outdoor air quality in a radius of 500m. Universities and scientific institute (Technical University Eindhoven and TNO) have investigated that City Hall will have a positive effect on its environment.;
• A numerous number of Cradle to Cradle Certified products will be used;
• The building will generate renewable energy, filter and infiltrate water and purify air quality;
• Because of Venlo’s C2C-ambitions for this project, several companies have certified their products;
• Arrangements have been made for reversal of products (take-back);
• Both national and international attention for the project during events, magazines and other media;
• The process encouraged the internal organization of Venlo, with a result that circular models are more and more integrated in (governmental) projects and policy;
• Cradle to Cradle is already part for the facility management of the building (e.g. toilet paper, soaps, etc).