In today’s news here at ukconstructionblog.co.uk, we will look into Eindhoven’s massive Moderne VEEM building by Caruso St. John cuts right through Strijp-S, a brand new neighbourhood in the city’s northwest. During the summer break, the building company Hobson & Porter of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire renovated schools and colleges for a total cost of £2.7 million.
VEEM, Eindhoven by Caruso St John
Original Source: Moderne revival: VEEM, Eindhoven, by Caruso St John
Rob Wilson notes that Caruso St John’s conversion of a 1940s warehouse in Eindhoven, Netherlands, provides living above residential and commercial uses.
The huge Moderne VEEM building in Eindhoven bisects Strijp-S, a new urban zone in the city’s north-west. The vast property was once Philips’ main production compound, which became famous for its light bulbs and later radios and the Philishave.
Philips and Eindhoven’s 20th-century growth was intertwined. The community was small until the late 19th century, when Philips workers arrived. Eindhoven added five municipalities by 1920.
The line of factory blocks, originally joined by assembly-line bridges, is a textbook example of Fordist production. One end received raw materials and the other completed items. The 1940s VEEM building was the factory’s end. VEEM, short for Veemgebouw, was a warehouse near the city’s ring road and railhead where finished products were held before being supplied to retailers.
It was at the business end of the process, with 10th-floor offices designated by an illuminated mast and like a ship’s bridge. High ceilings and big windows housed business officials and a showroom of new products. The building’s curvilinear brickwork, a step above from utilitarian industry buildings, shows its representational position.
Philips moved manufacturing overseas in 1996. Offshoring followed by deindustrialization, observed in many UK places, didn’t have the same detrimental impact here because the city was already a centre for electronics and, later, IT industries.
The site was sold in 2002 to Park Strijp Beheer, a public-private partnership between Eindhoven and VolkerWessels. Since then, its development has reflected the city’s housing needs. Trudo, a local non-profit, manages and builds the project.
Jo Coenen and West 8 have phased the site’s masterplan development. Social, mid-rent, and market housing, including high-end flats, cross-finance the whole. This ensures a diversified neighbourhood where people can migrate as their situations change.
Thus, the development includes both new-build towers and the refurbishment of the remaining Philips manufacturing buildings. This comprises creative workspaces, cafés, restaurants, and sports and leisure facilities.
Three nearby manufacturing blocks were retrofitted earlier. Designed in the late 1920s with 4.1m floor-to-ceiling heights, a 7.2m structural grid, and a 22m width for factory work, these proved remarkably flexible for re-use. Upper floors are start-up live/work lofts between 50m2 and 80m2, while lower floors are commercial.
VEEM’s redesign was harder. Its background as a storage warehouse left broad, splay-topped concrete columns at 6 x 6m centres and ceiling heights of just 2.8m. Floorplates above 35m wide are unsuitable for residential adaptation.
Given these limits and the building’s heritage status, Trudo held a competition in 2007 and Caruso St John won. The firm’s major architectural idea was to construct three levels of residences on top of the block, grouped around a new courtyard. This uses the structure’s restrictions and structural strength as a storage building.
In the realised plan, middle-rent apartments are topped by two-story maisonettes up to 95m2. Due to market changes in 2011, Caruso St John redesigned these units into penthouse residences. After that, the project froze for years.
The main structure was restored in 2015, and housing renovations began in 2019.
In the main building’s retrofit, the lowest floor has been opened up to make a food hall-cum-supermarket, with the nine storeys above left as meanwhile residential car parking space to be enlarged as needed.
It seems paradoxical and ungreen to refit a building as a multistory parking park, compared to recent initiatives that did the opposite. Dutch legislation needs 1.2 parking spots per new residence, so parking remains a significant requirement in the site’s renovation. This is a more eco-friendly choice than seizing land for parking lots or building parking basements. It’s also pragmatic: reusing a storage building for car storage.
With the expansion in residential units, car parking has crept up to the fifth story, using pre-cut concrete holes and car ramps.
The upper floors are used by individuals and organisations from across the city, including artists’ studios on the sixth level and Design Academy and Technical University students working on virtual reality research on the seventh. On the fifth floor, hydroponic crops and recycled water for trout were grown until recently. If Dutch parking law changes, the balance between parking and other uses might simply move again.
The raw nature of these floorplates, restored where needed but with peeling ceiling paint, may convey the impression that car parking is a temporary use. It also shows the quality of the original structure, which needed little maintenance. 95% of the façade’s steel windows were re-usable, needing only replacement glass, but no additional insulation was provided to the parking floors.
This mix of pragmatism and care in the envelope refit is characteristic of how Caruso St John has approached the rest of the building, aided by access to the original construction blueprints. V/Architecten accentuated the building’s Moderne essence without pastiche, an approach developed by Caruso St John’s preferences for similarly bricky expressionistic 1920s north German modernism, seen in earlier projects such as the 2016 Bremer Landesbank HQ.
Curved corners, ceramic floor tiling, and sculpted ironwork balusters at the food hall and ground-floor lobby access to the rooftop residences show this expertise. Caruso St John excels at robust, decorative neu-alt details.
Colours range from turquoise to dusty-pink and grey, with egg-yolk yellow used on the main windows and doors. The latter is repeated on the windows of the building’s three-story crown, providing top-and-tail highlights.
The former executive offices at one end of this crown are being converted into commercial space. Unexpectedly, a dentistry bar will move in. A new steel mast replaces the lost original. Its LED lighting works as a beacon and lights the ninth-floor courtyard, where the new housing is located.
This mews-like courtyard is entered through a foyer. Perforated paving feeds SuDs. Plants are watered using collected rainwater. These include trees rooted in concrete boxes that sit within the new structure’s concrete pads and steel beams. The trees soften a cul-de-sac and blur overlooking issues.
The homes have outside brick walls and inside calcium silicate blocks for insulation. Timber floors reduce load. Individual doors lead straight into the courtyard, and a modest threshold offers sitting or planters. The maisonettes, reached by a long stair, are also spacious and have deep terraces with huge view cutouts. The outside brick elevations are formed into sinuous, undulating waves, finely realised and detailed by different brick bonding, creating a powerful Moderne riff and distinctive top-knot.
VEEM is a bit behind the curve in its approach to embodied carbon, notwithstanding the awful optics of a parking plan. Designed around 2007-11, it may play a get-out-of-jail-free card on this issue. Trudo only updated the dwelling plans in 2019 to meet current Dutch building codes. At that point, Caruso St John should have been asked to examine the housing’s building materials. Not just the upper levels, but perhaps more of its construction could have been made of wood, making it lighter.
In contrast, the scheme is impressively slim, using solar cell heat pumps and photovoltaics for heating and hot water. These should provide enough energy to make the building energy-neutral, but no performance data is available.
This project is an instructive illustration of pragmatic decision-making and the difficulty of retrofitting ill-suited buildings without significant, self-defeating renovation. It’s a good illustration of Strijp-smart, S’s adaptable, wait-and-see development. Overall, this is an amazing and imaginatively realised project, however the housing might have used a more radical redesign to reduce embodied carbon. It’s suited to the demands of the city around it, a pleasant contrast to the ‘luxury’ reworking of many heritage buildings in UK retrofit projects.
The enormous Veemgebouw building is a well-known landmark on Eindhoven’s ring road, Tournallee. In 2007, we were requested to submit ideas for using it. Its deep plan, dense column grid, and shuttered façades made it difficult to re-use.
After experimenting with destructive volume cutting to accommodate various program mixes, we proposed rooftop housing. The first floor has restaurants. We cut ramps into the middle nine stories so they may be used for site-wide parking.
The 1940s structure contains Moderne characteristics, like streamlined brick corners. On the roof were executive offices and sound labs. Largely removed. The new top was designed to boost the building’s architectural vigour by embellishing its curved brick walls.
The scale of the serrated terrace, like a frieze along the top of the volume, was dictated by the 6m spacing of the column structure below. The current building can support a three-story terrace. The three-story section has ground-floor flats and maisonettes with roof terraces. Affordable rents are offered.
The central courtyard with all the front entrances ties all the houses together. You arrive via the original main core’s huge lift lobbies. The courtyard is sheltered but high above, so the air moves as in a ship’s bow.
Piet Vrencken and the client faithfully built our design 10 years after we made it. The ambitious colour design is based on historical paint colours.
Caruso St John’s Peter St John
Eindhoven-based Trudo contributes to affordable rental and owner-occupied houses in the city.
It does this through creating non-obvious solutions and goods and appealing projects like the Trudo Tower, Haasje Over, and the Veemgebouw at Strijp-S in Eindhoven, a highly urban residential setting for the Brainport Eindhoven technological region. Urban sense from a mix of functions and active public places. This development depends on industrial heritage and new construction.
Trudo owns the national monument Veemgebouw, a former Philips warehouse. a 2011 extension by Caruso St John transformed the original building. The ground-floor market hall opened in 2015. The levels above it are modest and well-designed for parking. The area’s development requires adding parking. The remaining floors host temporary exhibitions or events.
The top-floor homes were delayed. In 2020, façade maintenance presented an opportunity. The 2011 plans were appropriate for medium-rent demand. The amended plans were implemented.
38 sustainable studios and maisonettes surrounding a green rooftop courtyard fit the old building’s design. The building’s maintenance and extension will extend its life. Heat pumps on the roof supply hot tap water and heating in the plan. Solar panels will provide enough energy to make the system energy-neutral annually.
Trudo’s Willem Zaat
The new food market hall facade is glass on the ground floor, with masonry above. Its aluminium profiles are industrial. Transoms are open U-profiles with visible stitching. Mullions are narrow vertical bars.
At the food market entrances, the profiles and glass are flatter, flush, and golden yellow, like the original loading bay doors. A blasted and colored precast concrete plinth runs beneath the glass. Curved glass and precast pieces follow the brick’s curve at the corners.
The top three floors are the most the existing structure of in-situ concrete mushroom columns on a 6m grid could hold with some reinforcing. Brick façades bear directly on the 10th story slab. Stretcher bond, header bond for curved portions, and soldier bond separate the bricks. A shallow relief in the banding and white precast rails introduce horizontal lines, emphasising the brick bays’ tight rhythm.
The calcium silicate block work behind the brick is erected from a concrete beam spanning between existing columns and large enough to handle the façade’s curves. Steel beams distribute the load of blockwork party walls to the column grid, while upper-floor timber reduces weight.
400mm steel beams rest on concrete pads over each column. This increases the floor and courtyard level by 800mm, allowing trees to be planted as if in the ground.
Caruso St John associate Will Pirkis.
Hull construction firm completes £2.7m of work
Yorkshire and Lincolnshire construction firm Hobson & Porter refurbished schools and colleges for £2.7m over the holidays.
The projects comprised the £850k rehabilitation of Hull College’s ground floor tower block café, the fifth and seventh floors, and other campus and courtyard work. The work improved Queen Gardens’ training and development space.
The firm also completed a £700k project at Butterflies Nursery School on Priory Road for Hull Esteem and Hull City Council. The old nursery was removed and a new one built. Landscaping, a playground, and sensory areas were created.
Hobson & Porter also executed tasks for East Riding of Yorkshire Council before school started. St Andrews Kirk Ella spent £200,000 to upgrade learning and teaching spaces.
The team also re-roofed and refurbished classrooms at North Ferriby Primary School for £270k. Roof repairs, including asbestos removal.
Market Weighton Primary School’s changing facilities, WCs, and reception spaces were renovated for £255k.
Hobson & Porter’s Sam Robertson said, “We understand the time demands in education.” We have so little time in the summer to finish everything before September.
“Hull College, Hull Esteem, Hull City Council, and East Riding of Yorkshire Council are longtime clients because we never over promise. We’re pleased with these recent efforts, which help kids learn and grow.
Hobson & Porter completed two projects for York City Council in North Yorkshire. Sam continued, “We re-roofed Huntington and Elvington primary schools for £428k to ensure their longevity.”
Summary of today’s construction news
Overall, today we discussed the Caruso St. John’s modern revival design for the VEEM building in Eindhoven. The VEEM, or Veemgebouw, was a distribution centre located in close proximity to the city’s main thoroughfare and rail terminal. Hobson & Porter, a construction company based out of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, spent £2.7 million on vacation renovations to schools and universities. Renovations costing £850k were made to the ground floor café, the fifth and seventh floors of the tower building, and several other areas of the campus and courtyards at Hull College. The renovations made to Queen Gardens’ practice area were a great success.