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The Vakwerk architectural studio headquarters

The architects from the Vakwerk architectural studio recently chose to renovate the old thermal power station, called the Ketelhuis in Dutch, which for many years had provided electrical power to the Delft Technical University.

Innovations and changes to the energy production process gradually made the Ketelhuis power station obsolete and it was finally shut down in 1976. Slowly and inexorably, the complex fell into neglect, but some of its beautiful features remained clearly visible, like the Polonceau metal trusses and brick hearths in certain rooms, the façades with their enormous three-part windows, some of them with brick uprights, and a thirty-metre-high chimney.

In 2018 the Vakwerk architects won a competition to renovate the Ketelhuis, as they were looking for a headquarters. They therefore acted as designer, executor, client, main contractor and naturally user of the new spaces. They developed a global concept that has transformed this century-old industrial monument in a sustainable way. The project has improved the building’s energy management with new concrete floors, heat pumps for cooling and heating, double glazing and roof insulation.

The contemporary elements are easily recognisable as the combination of warm natural oak and red steel creates a pleasant contrast with the industrial “shell”. The project has affected every section of the building. New openings have been made in the old wall, and there is a new glazed entrance, a wooden elevation and large illuminated letters, which can be seen from the ribbon skylight in the Ketelhalle (the main power station room). All of these features recount the history of this renovation to the entire district.

Now the building is both the Vakwerk studio headquarters, and a central hub for the area, the University and the citizens of Delft in general, as it also the base for numerous other creative and innovative companies given that there is a workspace which can be rented out, even for brief periods, that is equipped for catering and includes a meeting room. Anyone can come to this place for a cup of coffee on the sunny terrace. At the Vakwerkhuis, people with different skills and training inspire each other and bring new intuitions and special relationships when they meet. These are the new concepts behind today’s workplaces that are open to cross-sector sharing and this location offers all of them. For years, the municipality of Delft and the University have sought to create a bond between the campus and the city and now the open character of the Vakwerkhuis has made this connection real.

The spaces created fulfil different functions and this is why the artificial lighting system consists of a range of different luminaires.

Isola and iRoll pendant luminaires offer a diffuse and homogeneous light effect that is provided during the daytime by the large ribbon skylights in the roof.

At the centre there is a large block of wood, surrounded by plants, and with a series of special, intimate, high-focus work stations located on top of it.

Recessed Laser luminaires have been used widely in the wooden ceilings, and to emphasize the curve of the vault, surface-mounted View Optilinear luminaires have been fitted with a Wall Washer optic. To emphasize the industrial aspect of the building, in certain positions, an unusual wall-mounted version of the iSign luminaire has been installed.

The large glass windows also mean that at night, there is complete permeability between the inside and outside of the building.

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  • Year
  • Client
    Vakwerk Architecten
  • Architectural project:
    Vakwerk Architecten
  • Photographer
    Kris Dekeijser