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International Facade Community


In 2008, two sector organisations joined forces and entered into a close partnership. The Central Trade Association for the Home Furnishings Industry (Centrale Branchevereniging Wonen, abbreviated as CBW) directs its efforts to all aspects of interior design, whilst Mitex promotes the interests of Dutch fashion retailers. The merger created the largest representatives in the Netherlands outside of the food industry.
Tags: Facade, sustainable
Alex Bijvank


CBW’s former building was located on the wooded Utrecht Hill Ridge. Sited at the edge of Park de Breul – a nationally listed estate consisting of an English landscape-style park with a pond – the building had a magnificent location. The problem, however, was that it permitted no interaction with its green surroundings.

It was decided to construct a new building at the same location. The new building can accommodate the employees of both CBW and Mitex, thus stimulating collaboration. It also serves to promote its image among the two organisations’ members, in which, the surrounding scenic landscape actually does play a role in the architectural design.

The design focused on the interaction between man and the natural environment. This was achieved in form as well as by the sustainable measures included in the design. The new building has a square floor plan with two storeys. The wings are designed around a courtyard. The ground floor in the wing facing the woods is left open to create an immediate connection between the courtyard and the adjoining scenic landscape

The design is based on an interplay of three elements. The first of these is the members. Visitors enter the building in its northwest corner where they immediately find themselves in the centre of the building. The west wing, on the side facing the courtyard, has a double-storey entrance lobby, reception desk, waiting room and a small information centre. Conference rooms are located in the south wing on the first floor. From here, a view through to the pond in the adjoining English landscape-style park provides visitors with tranquil surroundings. Having the largest part of the building made from glass makes the structure of the organisation transparent.

The second element consists of the users. Offices are on the outsides of the wings and oriented toward their surroundings. Using so much glass makes other users and the entrance always visible from the workstations. The rooms for facilities face the courtyard and encourage social interaction.

The third element is interaction with the natural environment. By means of the ‘open’ wing, the natural environment penetrates the courtyard and makes it an extension of the surroundings. Through the open glass facades with wooden blinds, the natural environment can be admired from every room. The building also makes maximum use of daylight and thus reduces its consumption of electricity for lighting.

The building is designed with sustainability in mind so that it can give as much as possible back to the natural environment. This satisfies the needs of the current generation of users but does not limit future generations either. Two examples: the acoustic material is biodegradable and only a minimum of copper was used.

A reduction in energy consumption also contributes to sustainability. One of the elements in this is an underground heating and cooling storage facility combined with concrete core activation. The system also responds to the number of people present in the building, thus improving efficiency even more. The building not only interacts with its natural surroundings, but it also displays a respect for nature. For users, these measures impart the ultimate in comfort.

Source text: Architect: RAU, Amsterdam

Project Inretail, Zeist, Netherlands
Architect: RAU, Amsterdam
Fabricator of the Facades: van Dool Geveltechniek, de Lier
Façade Systems: Schüco International KG, Bielefeld
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Employees: 1000+, Industry: Supplier


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