Making nature feel even more natural A building that is in perfect harmony with its surroundings. A natural environment that is in perfect harmony with the building constructed in it. In short: an office building that not only melts into its natural surroundings, but also enhances nature by its presence. That was what architect Frank Willems had in mind when he started making sketches for a new office building for WillemsenU. A small, slightly neglected and unnoticed park, wedged in between the busy Eindhoven ring road and the railway line, turned out to be the ideal place to realize his dream.
The sober aesthetics of the building is what catches the eye. And, as in nature, beneath this simplicity lies a wealth of intricate, perfectly balanced blueprints. In all aspects and down to the very last detail, the building manages to create harmony an all-encompassing harmony.
It is almost as if the trees reach out with their branches to lightly feel and touch the façades that have been covered with untreated wooden cladding. The large, floor-high, alternating windows emphasize the abstract character of the uplifted box and allow daylight that has filtered through the leaves to enter the building. Trees and building are, as it were, melted into one by the translucent daylight. And the dynamic interaction between nature and building comes to life even more in the ever-changing reflections of the sky and trees in the windows.
Similarly, the ridged tree trunks of the large oak trees flow over into the eight columns supporting the box-shaped building above. By lifting the building up into the air in this way, a clear view of the park on street level is not only maintained, but the building seems to form a low and dense natural canopy.
Inside out and outside in The large windows, almost flush with the façade, make it feel as if the forces inside are about to bud out into the branches reflected on their surface. Through these windows one can clearly see the building’s supporting columns rise up three floors high, as if the oak trees themselves have moved into the building.
The open, no-frills feel of the park flows over seamlessly into the no-nonsense interior. Large, transparent elements, natural materials, glass, much smooth, almost soft-looking concrete and a few, small eye-catching details are a sober echo of the trees and the sky which come flooding in through the windows. As in nature, where one element stands out from the next by way of its unique characteristics, the absence of door frames, window sills, plinths or suchlike underlines the look, feel and qualities of the carefully chosen, inspiring range of sustainable materials used in the interior.
For the people inside, the open view and location of this office building provides daily inspiration. Despite the fact that it is located in one of the most traffic-dense parts of Eindhoven, it is a quiet place where the serene, green surroundings orchestrate the natural flow of thought of those working in the office building.
Similarly, for people driving along the ring road, the green shrubs and trees in the park offer passers-by a point of natural beauty. In Autumn, the building reveals itself – almost as if it, like the trees, has also shed its leaves. During cold, dark winter days the soft and inviting glow of interior LED lighting catches the eye and gives a comforting feeling of warm and welcoming surroundings: inside and out.
Art – for nature's sake Two leading artists were requested to make an art object fitting to the building. Their eye-catching, building-high bird flight lights up the wall of the central staircase using LED lighting. The illusion is created that the birds are perched and take flight in the building itself.
Sustainability – the natural way Just as trees store up precious saps in the winter and provide cooling shade in the summer, the sustainable heating and cooling system makes use of summer warmth and winter cold with thermal ground storage.
The FSC-certified wood façade of the building is removable, which allows for easy waste management if at any point in the future the building is adapted. The rubber floor covering on the WillemsenU offices is made from recycled car tyres.