The Netherlands’ “Inspiration House” Models Cradle-To-Cradle

Cradle-to-cradle design and cutting-edge green tech combine in the building known as the Bosch Siemens Hausgeräte (B/S/H/) Inspiration House. Located 15 kilometers south of Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, the building is home to five of the top global brands in energy efficient household appliances – Bosch, Siemens, Gaggenau, Neff and Constructa — and is the first structure designed for Park 20|20, the first cradle-to-cradle-inspired full-service development in the Netherlands.

The visionary behind the “inspiration” here was architect William McDonough, working with none other than Michael Braungart, the founder of the cradle-to-cradle movement. The two are long-time partners in McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (their product design and development firm), and in 2002 coauthored the book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. The B/S/H Inspiration House was designed to fully embody the principles of cradle-to-cradle design, which holds that humans can have a positive, rather than negative, impact on ecosystems by retooling our economic, industrial and social framework to become not only efficient but also essentially waste free.

B/S/H

image via William McDonough + Partners

Practically speaking, it means that nearly every material used to construct this building can either be recycled or returned to nature when it reaches the end of its natural life.

This may sound like a radically green proposition. But the Netherlands, as a whole, is fertile ground for radically green propositions. From co-op wind power to floating architecture (designed as a hedge against rising sea levels), biofuels-powered ice cream to sustainable global expos, the Netherlands is no stranger to sustainable innovation. The B/S/H Inspiration House was designed as a flexible, innovative workplace as well as a showroom to support the expansion of its parent brands into the burgeoning Dutch market for smart green tech.

“The decision for a cradle-to-cradle building in the Netherlands is a good fit with BSH’s sustainability goals and strategy. With our super-efficient home appliances, we make an important contribution to resource conservation and as long ago as 2008 we were already recognized as Germany’s most sustainable company for our responsible approach to the environment,” said Kurt-Ludwig Gutberlet, Chairman of the BSH board of Management, in a statement.

Inhabitat reports that the centerpiece of the building is a four-story atrium with a living wall that plays a significant role in supplying the facility with fresh air. This beautiful display of vegetation makes good use of the natural daylight the filters down through a serrated skylight, which is also outfitted with building-integrated solar photovoltaic panels.  The building also features a green roof, which helps to improve the eco office/showroom’s energy efficiency.

B/S/H

Other efficient touches are evident throughout the B/S/H Inspiration House in the form of daylight sensors, LED lighting and a ground-source heating and cooling system.  Captured rain water is filtered and stored, along with grey water, for reuse in toilet fixtures. In keeping with its zero-waste, cradle-to-cradle design theme, the building also treats its own sewage on site via a black water system. This system, combined with a nutrient management system, captures nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous and carbon for reuse.

If you find yourself in Hoofddorp, where the B/S/H Inspiration House is located, feel free to stop in and check it out. And if you arrive after hours, don’t worry: unlike conventional offices and showrooms, this facility will be open in the evenings and on weekends.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shanesnipes Shane Snipes

    What’s the social impact of this building? Where do most people live and commute from? Our connection to the building is not just its functioning but the interaction itself.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lelandlehrman Leland Lehrman

      good point, what about the statement made by the architecture, where is the indigenation, the natural integration, still so angular, where are the curves like in nature? L

      • OwenZachariasse

        Hi Leland,

        As a member of the development team responsible for Sustainability and Cradle to Cradle at Park 20|20 perhaps I can address a part of your above questions? First let me say thanks for expressing your thoughts and looking at Park
        20|20 with a critical eye. As a “Cradle to Cradle Developer” Delta views development as an opportunity for continuous improvement and comments like this are always good for projects like ours because different viewpoints only help us to continuously improve the quality of our developments. Second, when I read your comment it appears to me (but please correct me if I am wrong) that you are an architect and/or designer. So for full disclosure I am not a designer or architect but rather a business man who studied and is trained in strategy, finance and real estate development. I say this because I don’t believe would be either helpful to our discussion or respectful of your architectural opinions/views/capabilities to pretend to talk to you in detail about architecture. So I will do my best here to provide insight on the design and architecture that hopefully you will find interesting and maybe even informative as it relates to my specialty which is Cradle to Cradle for the built environment and the strategic concept that we as a developer have made and implemented for the realization of these projects, the park (and how it relates to the tenant, environment and local/national community). Another one of my areas of expertise is the various business case developments for a park like this and it is good to mention that this project has been very successful in an absolutely stagnant market and we have been able to prove to other Dutch developers that you can indeed turn a good profit and develop projects that are not only “less bad” for the environment but work to positively support and stimulate the environment and society. This is what I personally am most proud of and if you are interested in further discussing this I invite you to contact me personally on the email address provided in the above reaction to Shane.

        So, here we go!

        The architect of Park 20|20 and all of its various buildings is Cradle to Cradle co-creator William McDonough and I can unequivocally say that natural integration of environmental characteristics plays a major roll in the development of the B/S/H/ project and Park 20|20 as a whole. Let me provide some examples to back this claim. On each building, our landscaping designer Copijn is brought into the project team not only for the development of the surrounding soft-scape areas but to also provide a seamless transition from natural environment to the built environment (in Dutch we call this “binnen buiten; buiten binnin” or inside outside; outside inside). I invite you to have a look at this video we made with them (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jp4bWEZLGyk). Together with Copijn Delta has commissioned an extensive study and based on this study developed realization plan for the integration of the built and natural environment. We are conscious to make decision in the development to attract various species of migrating birds that pass by the Haarlemmermeer and also provide environments for a variety of insects like (to name only a few) butterflies, grasshoppers and bees (we have several honey hives where, of course no chemicals are used or other forms of agitation techniques of the bees employed… proper park-wide signage shows where these honey hives are so people with allergies can be informed of the presence of bees). Different species are promoted in different “Pocket Parks” which are also scattered throughout the park as “surprises” for visitors to stumble upon. Our newest project for the park actually even has a butterfly incubator where larva are raised, hatched and then released into the local ecosystem; in fact, we would like to first have them spend a day in one of the creative meeting rooms so that the interior design can actually be beautiful living butterflies. However this in an early concept phase requires more work with our specialists at the vlinderstichting (http://www.vlinderstichting.nl/) which is an entire non-profit organization in Holland providing support and encouragement for the development of butterflies. We also have a comprehensive plan to provide support to local bats because we think bats get a bad rap and are wonderful and important members of the local ecosystem! All vegetation used at the park and within/on the buildings are local non-invasive species from the Haarlemmermeer Polder and we work with biodiversity specialists from the local government and University of Leiden to make sure of this. Worth mentioning is that it is important to see this project within the context of an entire park which was not under construction at the time of this photo shoot and is therefore not depicted in the exterior shots provided above, actual park landscaping development started this last April. As of today, the hard-scape entrance to the building is now flourishing with plants and we have started to fill the central canal which doubles as a water retention pond and natural water filtration system (using helophyte filtration). The green roof area that is shown in the first picture wraps the entire structure traveling up the various elevations, vertically along the outside of the atrium and onto the roof (this can vaguely be seen in the interior shot of the vertical green wall outside of the glass atrium).

        Regarding the aesthetic form of the structure itself, you are very right, the building is indeed comprised of sharp lines, and no flowing curvature accents have been used but I must say I rather like the final result (however, as a member of the development team I would also agree that I am a biased reviewer!). The Park 20|20 Master Plan as a whole shows sharp and defined lines in the buildings and organic free-flowing lines in the park and landscape and as mentioned above the use of green to link the natural and built environments (if you are interested at this link you can see some of the other projects that are finished or in construction: http://www.mcdonoughpartners.com/projects/view/type/commercial – and here is the master plan http://www.mcdonoughpartners.com/projects/view/park_2020_master_plan). This is a design decision that our design team has made and perhaps this style is not to your liking but one persons delight is another’s disdain which is also of course reality and OK! This is not to say that we don’t expect to also incorporate other forms of design into the park like buildings with more of a flowing organic identities. The Master Plan is more of a “massing study” than anything else and final designs are greatly dependent on personal wishes and tastes of a client (the client is an important part of the development team at our projects). Again, even though I am not a designer, I can say one thing for sure from the perspective of our conceptual strategy, at Park 20|20 we want each building to be unique because Cradle to Cradle explicitly acknowledges the need to celebrate the diversity of design.

        An interesting element more to do with the integration of design and function of B/S/H/ (and all Park 20|20 buildings) is that it has been designed with future uses in mind. The interior uses very broad floor plates and can easily be converted to apartments and/or retail in the future should zoning regulations change and/or the community require other forms of real property. Even stronger, these buildings to be disassembled piece by piece in order to support the future recovery of materials (or as we call them nutrients) and leave behind a green-field situation at the end of their current economic viability. This means that what the future of this site can and will be is only limited by imagination and zoning restrictions (as a development company my position would be to eliminate all zoning to promote organic communities with multi-functional characteristics (e.g. schools, work, shopping, recreation all within walking distance) but that is not how it currently works in Dutch fringe communities (but we are working on that with the local municipality).

        Again, thank you for your interest and critical comments on our project and I hope that I have been able to provide some behind the scenes insight on your questions. When looking at how much we have thought about the decisions we make (even the small ones) I hope that perhaps you have a different opinion on the statement that this architecture makes because our goal is to make a positive statement through both architecture and business!

        With kind regards,

        Owen A. Zachariasse