Building N Hengelo

Building N Hengelo

LKSCDD Architecten

In 2011, the technology group Thales decided to change course. The majority of the staff are grey men, who will be retiring en masse and rejuvenation is desperately needed. This is why Thales wants to create an attractive working environment for young, highly educated technicians. The High Tech Systems Park in Hengelo is the built result of this change. As the latest achievement, Building N has been transformed into a collective building for high-tech start-ups, designed by LKSVDD architects.

The Dutch branch of Thales was founded in 1922 in Hengelo as NV Hazemeyers' factory of signal devices. In 1956 Philips bought most of the shares and the name changed to 'Hollandse Signaal Apparaten' (Dutch Signal Devices). In 1990, Thomson-CSF acquired the company from Philips and in 2000 the name Thomson-CSF was changed to Thales. Thales Nederland is active in the field of aerospace, defence and information technology. The head office in Hengelo has approximately 1,000 employees. The emphasis has shifted from production to innovation and development. Until recently, the Thales site was an impregnable fortress with strict security. Now the company is convinced that innovation comes about through cooperation, encounters, a free way of working, relaxation and contact with the outside world. 

 

Fortress becomes campus

A first step is the demolition of the large, now unused production halls on the Twente canal and the construction of a new head office and facilities centre. Architect Hans van den Dobbelsteen of LKSVDD architects: "The fact that we were selected is partly due to our idea for a green park-like campus. Together with MTD landscape architects and Reitsema & partners architects, LKSVDD presented a campus concept that is strongly committed to the development of the High Tech Systems Park as a whole, a master plan for buildings and landscape. Apparently, this fits in perfectly with the wishes of Thales. They received the assignment and construction of the new head office and the 'Shared Facility Center' and the layout of the surrounding areas started in 2014. Thales wants to create a High Tech Systems Park here that is attractive to (starting) technology-based companies. 

 

Robust shell

The next step is the transformation of office building N into a business centre. As on other (former) Philips sites, the buildings are marked with letters. Building N dates from 1962 and is a very functional building with a robust concrete construction. Architect Van den Dobbelsteen is proud that this building has been preserved: "You can compare the concrete shell with a racking system. You can fill it in with anything." The building has two floors, each 4 meters high, and a basement, partly provided with daylight by a moat. It is 120 metres long and 21 metres deep and has bays of 7 metres. 

"Originally, Building N had a long façade without special features with long strips of steel windows. It was a building where in winter it was barely warmer than 15 degrees Celsius, and in summer, it could be above 40 degrees, if you believe the old employees. On the first floor, the drawing tables were arranged tightly, under a double skylight. Those skylights were later closed and we have now partly reopened them." 

Clear entrance

The office building used to be accessible via the production halls behind it and via a footbridge from the now disappeared office building K. There was no private entrance and the south façade was uniform over a full 120 metres. Now the south façade has a clear accent at the entrances. The new main entrance is in line with the axis between the Shared Facility Center and the new Thales head office. A curtain wall is used at the main entrance. Towards this entrance and a second entrance, the façade opens up more and more. The south façade of the building is less open for the purpose of warming up by solar radiation. 

The architect has opted for aluminium façades with slender Reynaers Aluminium profiles in view of the large glass surfaces of 4.3 x 2 meters at the main entrance. The architect also wants to approach the slenderness of the original steel windows. The three-part division of the steel windows is still recognisable in the new façades. 

Facilities

A void has been made in two places: the largest in the large communal entrance hall, and one that extends into the basement, with pantries. In the communal areas, companies can easily meet, work together and inspire and strengthen each other. Around the large mezzanine, there are trendy work, meeting and lounge areas for tenants to use. There are also flexible spaces. There is a presentation room with room for two hundred people. In the basement is a green screen studio, where Virtual Reality applications can be tested. There are a total of three hundred workplaces. On the first floor, within the curtain wall, there is an LED screen of about 80 m2 on which companies can present themselves.

Around the large mezzanine, there are trendy work, meeting and lounge areas for tenants to use. 

Continued

Although the renovation has not yet been fully completed, client HMO started renting out the property in July 2018. "If the rental goes well, we will also renovate the entire basement. And then we can also improve things further in terms of installation technology", says the architect. 

LKSVDD will continue at the High Tech Systems Park: there are plans for a new business centre near the Shared Facility Center, with larger and more luxurious spaces, to which the start-ups from Building N will eventually be able to move as they grow.

Fabricator: 
Oude Wesselink Kozijnen B.V.
Architects: 
LKSCDD Architecten
Location: 
Hengelo OV, the Netherlands
Photographer: 
Jan Willem Schouten