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Universiteit Twente ITC   landscapem

Transformation to sustainable building

ITC is the Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation, which moved from its former location in the city centre of Enschede to the campus of the University of Twente. A former laboratory building from the 1970s has been transformed into one of the most sustainable buildings on campus. Gispen carried over the interior design by Groen + Schild Architects to the furniture, with sustainability playing a major role.


Jeroen Verplanke, programme manager and member of the commissioning team: 'The ITC faculty caters to a mostly international target group. Most students come from less affluent parts of the world, which is why we wanted to furnish the new building without wasting any money. Sustainability is a guiding principle for the University of Twente; we wanted to be at the forefront of this and opted for reused furniture where possible, alongside new circular furniture. Gispen supplied large numbers of refurbished and recycled products from its Circular Hub. Following a mini-competition, we decided on Gispen because they could both consult us on the interior design and supply all the reused and new furniture. A winning combination.'


The new faculty building has a rugged, industrial look with many raw, natural materials such as oak, concrete and metal. We wanted to use the furniture to add colour to the interior and create a warm, cosy atmosphere. A 'home away from home' for the international students. A spot where they can meet up and interact with one another. In addition to more traditionally furnished classrooms, the faculty offers open-plan study areas with a more innovative character as well as laboratories, offices and several green courtyards. A requirement for the more traditional study area was for the spaces be efficient in use: i.e. to be multifunctional in terms of furniture and layout.



Bas de Jong, account manager at Gispen: 'We worked through a challenging process together with the ITC faculty and the architect. We held several sessions with Groen + Schild Architects on colour schemes and materialisation. Originally, the design was mainly based on new circular furniture. We continuously asked ourselves: what can we do with the faculty's existing furniture and returned products from other clients at our Circular Hub?' A scan of the existing furniture concluded that much of it could not be reused because it no longer met modern health and safety requirements. However, we did clean and reupholster 120 school chairs, which have now come into their own at the restaurant and study area. The remaining furniture was sustainably processed by Gispen. Jeroen: 'I like the idea that the items are given a new lease of life by Gispen.'



We not only refurbished 319 desks and 300 school chairs, we also cleaned 418 office chairs and replaced parts and reupholstered them where needed. We also took old tabletops that had been returned by other clients and transformed them into 188 partition walls. Moreover, we repainted 20 lockers in a more modern colour, and supplied 80 refurbished student desks and 241 chests of drawers. As there was a desire for standing desk work, refurbished desks from Gispen's own stock from the Circular Hub were installed in the offices. Used desk frames were repainted and motorised to turn them into sit-stand workstations. Bas: 'All these repurposed products have resulted in a CO2-reduction of no less than 93% when compared to acquiring new furniture. It is to ITC's credit that they fully committed to creating a sustainable furnishing, which is not necessarily cheaper because of the amount of manual labour involved, but it does result in a significant CO2 reduction.' Items that were not eligible for refurbishment were replaced by new circular furniture, such as Gispen SETT sofas, NOMI chairs with removable and colourful covers, Gispen HUGG focus workstations and ZINN office chairs.

Bas: 'Eight weeks before delivery we were informed that the renovation of the building was delayed. A clever solution was called for seeing that everything was already in full production. By mutual agreement, we decided to carry on with production and put the furniture in storage with a partner of both Gispen and ITC: Convoi, who delivered the furniture in batches when the time came.' Jeroen: 'Gispen also came up with some other good ideas. One of which concerned the conference tables, for which the architect had suggested Forbo Linoleum Desktop tabletops for a slightly softer look. Gispen, however, came up with a more economical solution with the same appeal: tabletops made of chipboard with multiplex edge banding.'


Photography: Chris van Koeverden

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Bas de Jong, Gispen account manager

A word from the specialist

'I think that we can all be very proud of the result: not only of the beautiful, sustainable building - which is now also enjoyed by students from other faculties - but also because of how we collaborated on this project. It was a large building for which we supplied nearly 3,800 products. There were a great many details to consider. Having short lines of communication is crucial for such an operation. As far as I'm concerned, the new ITC faculty is a prime example for other educational institutes that are truly committed to sustainable design. However, this is often easier said than done; it requires patience and proper coordination. But we have definitely proven that this leads to something beautiful. The university's sustainability ambitions have been exceeded.’

Jeroen Verplanke Jeroen Verplanke, programme manager and member of the University of Twente commissioning team


Such a large reduction of CO2 emissions in production that it equals as many as 713 flights from Amsterdam to Paris. Or driving an average car 590,563 kilometres. With a result that looks like new consisting of, what is in fact, a large quantity of reused furniture that we supplied. This is exactly what we realised together with the University of Twente for its ITC faculty of Geo-information Science and Earth Observation.

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Jeroen Verplanke, programme manager and member of the University of Twente commissioning team

The client’s thoughts

'It was an adventurous project where we challenged Gispen to keep looking for sustainable solutions. We collaborated very closely throughout the project. We had weekly consultations and kept looking for creative ways to achieve a more sustainable interior up until the last moment. Gispen continuously translated our wishes into practical solutions from their extensive knowledge and experience in this field. Gispen also provided clear and well-founded reasons whenever they decided against something. This has all contributed to a beautiful result. With lots of reused products and a great ambience due to stunning finishes. I really enjoyed working with them.'

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